Harry Clark and his second-generation farming family took the forward-thinking decision to plant Miscanthus as an important part of their farm’s diversification, to make life a little easier for everyone, while being more gentle on the planet.
These Miscanthus fields, which are 190 feet above sea level, will be showcased on a farm walk taking place on Thursday 16 June 2022. The event is hosted by Miscanthus specialist, Terravesta, and runs from 9:30 – 11:30am.
Harry says: “We wanted to utilise all aspects of the farm and our family, other than the traditional crops and cows. We diversified and we have chosen Miscanthus as an important part of our diversification, to suit our own needs.
“Someone once told me to write down all the assets that we have on our farm; everyone forgets at least one,” says Harry.
“So I wrote down: fields, footpaths, animals, crops, overhead cables etc. Then they pointed out that the key things were actually family and labour. You can’t force someone to have a passion for the job they do but it definitely helps.”
Harry’s sister, Ella, is into horses so the family created a livery. Harry’s mother Yvonne is friendly and likes to keep things clean so they added glamping pods.
“My father Derrick is 79 years old and still likes driving tractors and to feel busy,” explains Harry.
“We were looking at reducing his workload, while introducing a new crop into the worst performing fields, so we opted for Miscanthus.
“Miscanthus pretty much grows anywhere, even when growing conditions are not ideal. It has really exceeded our expectations and is making us more profit than the wheat crop we had previously.
“We have already had a second crop of Miscanthus, which doubled in size from the first one and we are hoping the crop will double again.”
Harry said his family were trying to get away from a ploughing system and initially it was hard to get a seed bed into the ground, but they now have a continuous crop.
“It can be hard to get good ground because you have to catch it right,” says Harry, “But Miscanthus is low risk compared to cereal crops and you can secure a set income. We used to have waterlogging problems in the autumn but we don’t now, as a result of Miscanthus.
“I’m still amazed by how fast it grows, it is flying up and it is at waist height in early June, even though it was so dry in April, the roots are so far down in the clay they keep the moisture in.”
“We haven’t had to touch our baler and bale chaser. The only problem we had was a bit of knotweed that we can spray off.
“We are very pleased with Terravesta and all that they have done for us. We are not just a number to Alex; he knows us.
“Terravesta wants you to succeed. I really can’t say one bad word about them and they paid for a new crop when the first one was hit by drought and we had problems with red clay and we costed it and planted it and then topped it. We’ve since had two great crops off it.
“We sell it all back to Terravesta and they send it to renewable energy power stations. The yields are as good as the wheat crop. I think farmers would be mad not to choose Miscanthus now.”
About the Miscanthus farm walk:
Farm walk host: Harry Clark
Date and time: Thursday 16 June, 9:30am – 11:30am
Location: Grove Fields Farm, Warwickshire
Catering: Complimentary teas, coffees, and pastries