A Norfolk arable farmer is using Miscanthus to square off awkwardly shaped fields, in a move he hopes will bring multiple benefits to his business.
Algy Garrod from Manor Farm in Bintree, Norfolk, decided to plant Miscanthus after learning about its environmental credentials and seeing a neighbour plant it.
“My neighbour put Miscanthus on some very small fields next to waterways, which got me thinking that I could potentially use it to take out some of my less productive land,” Algy explains.
“When I looked at my yield maps, certain areas of the farm performed poorly on an annual basis, typically areas on the edges of fields.
“So, I made the decision to put Miscanthus on them. I’ve straightened out these fields with GPS, taking out bits near hedges or bendy field margins and edges.”
Algy has planted 10ha of Miscanthus in total and hopes squaring off the fields will make them more manageable and efficient for conventional food cropping.
“I accept that there may well be some reduction in yield and I’m not suddenly expecting the Miscanthus to be an amazing crop when it’s next to a hedge,” he explains.
“But I’m not putting inputs on and I’m not running on it, so I’m hoping that having taken those out of the equation it will give me a return.
“I’m also hoping it will provide me with some efficiency gains – my sprayer works better when it’s going in a straight line as opposed to going around corners which creates inaccuracies when applying our inputs.”
Additionally, the miscanthus is providing Algy with game cover.
“I’ve now got permanent shooting cover which means I don’t have to establish it each year, which is a big benefit,” he says.
As the crop is still in the establishment phase it’s too soon to tell if the decision to plant Miscanthus has paid off financially, but Algy is hopeful.
“We have no idea what the Miscanthus will yield yet as we are only in years two/three, but by year five we will have a better idea,” he adds.