The case for growing Miscanthus continues to stack up, with the biggest price increase confirmed in March 2023.
The UK’s largest producer group for Miscanthus, Terravesta, has announced a Retail Price Index (RPI) increase of 12.86%, which is the biggest increase since the company started trading in 2012.
With the increased price, the return to the grower averages at £851/ha over a 15-year period, on the basis the crop reaches a mature yield of between 10 – 15t/ha, which the firm says is typical for the Terravesta AthenaTM variety.
“Establishment costs for Miscanthus are around £1,889/ha, and growers signing up before the end of June 2023 will get a 10% discount, meaning an establishment cost of £1,700/ha. The ongoing management costs are low, with little or no inputs needed post-establishment, which takes two years, and no fertiliser needed for the crop’s life,” explains Mark Coleman, Terravesta’s account manager.
Terravesta offers growers long-term contracts to grow and sell the crop, which has an average lifespan of 15 years and farmers considering planting Miscanthus can benefit from a finance package with Oxbury Bank, to cover virtually all upfront costs for crop establishment, as well as direct, long-term offtake agreements with end-users, with 10–15-year index-linked annual returns.
“Growing Miscanthus on less productive land offers farmers a financial return as well as delivering environmental benefits such as carbon sequestration, and increased soil heath and stability,” explains Alex Robinson, Terravesta’s operations director.
“The first independent, peer-reviewed study into the Miscanthus life cycles shows that the above ground biomass grows annually and recycles all the carbon that’s been produced through planting, harvesting and burning the crop for renewable electricity, and at the same time, the underground rhizome and decaying leaf litter fixes and stores net 0.64 tonnes of carbon (2.35 tonnes CO2e) per hectare, each year as it grows,” says Alex.
“We need to ramp up planting of perennial energy crops significantly. In its 6th Carbon Budget, the Committee on Climate Change said polluting emissions must decrease by 78%, and states that planting perennial energy crops, including Miscanthus and short rotation willow coppice, alongside short rotation forestry needs to accelerate quickly to at least 30,000 hectares a year by 2035, so that 700,000 hectares are planted by 2050.
“There is also increased demand from growing markets, such as renewable energy generation, livestock bedding, and use in sustainable building materials such as prefabricated housing.” Adds Alex.