Lincolnshire arable farmer, Andrew Lyle, has planted a further 12 hectares of Miscanthus this spring, adding to 41 hectares already planted on what he calls ‘lower gross margin land’.
The Miscanthus cropping is part of a risk management strategy he has worked on with his advisor, Hamish Bichan, from Newark-based agricultural consultancy, Active Business Partnerships (ABP).
“Planting Miscanthus on soil that’s difficult to farm due to heavy clay areas and blow away sand has been beneficial to the business,” explains Andrew.
“The land it’s planted on doesn’t yield well with a typical arable rotation, so the risk is high. Miscanthus is lower risk, low-input and provides a good and stable income well into the future as well as doing the land good.
“For example, in 2019 we planted an 11-hectare field with Miscanthus which was previously prime carrot land, but due to nematodes in the soil, growing carrots here became unviable,” says Andrew.
Hamish Bichan from ABP explains that Miscanthus is a key element of Andrew’s carbon management strategy as well as his risk management approach. “Miscanthus sequesters carbon and the soil is undisturbed for a long period of time, it also delivers stable returns, and allows Andrew to concentrate his efforts on the higher quality land.”
“There has been an improvement in rhizome quality and the planters are now much more efficient than in the past, so we are hoping for better yields on the 2019 and 2020 planted crops,” says Andrew.
“Miscanthus adds an interesting element to our school visits on the farm, which are part of our Countryside Stewardship programme. We have ten visits a year and we educate children in growing crops for both food and energy. To find out more about this visit www.andrewsfarmtrips.com,” he says.
Andrew farms around 350 hectares of land in Market Rasen, and first planted 27 hectares of Miscanthus in 2006, putting in a further 14 hectares in 2019, and a further 12 hectares this spring. He believes that not only has his advisory service has helped him to manage the farm business more strategically, but that it gives him peace of mind.
“The peace of mind is invaluable. I recently attended a meeting with the local rural support network, and many farmers are struggling and need support on issues like BPS, tax, business planning. I am a client of ABP, it’s money well spent and I’m glad I don’t have these worries,” Adds Andrew.