Farmers in theeastern counties with problem marginal land are being invited to find out ifgrowing miscanthus could provide a viable solution, at a Terravesta and AngliaFarmers hosted event on 29 October.
For the pastfive years Norfolk arable farmers, and Gressingham Duck producers, David andChristopher Sargent, have been successfully growing miscanthus on fields thathave previously failed to yield. Theyre opening the farm on 29 October andinviting growers to come along and see the crop for themselves.
Weve tried growinga variety of different crops on my awkward fields, but they actually became acost to the farm business because they were so inefficient. The fields weremaking a loss. So we were bold and tried miscanthus and havent looked back. Wenow farm 18.5 hectares of miscanthus on our marginal land, and its making areliable income, says David.
The crop wasfirst planted in Barren Field in 2010. Its an apt name because itshistorically been barren by nature. We tried barley in it, then grass, but itwas eaten by rabbits. It had been a problem field for years. But for the pastfive years, weve been successfully growing miscanthus in it and the rabbitsdont like it, once its established.
Because thecrop yields are better each year, the returns keep going up. Input costs areminimal, and its a hardy perennial so you arent needing to re-plant annually.Weve made the decision to plant more of the crop on other problem fieldsaround the farm, that are too small for some modern machinery, he says.
Since 2013tonnages by field have increased by an average of 33% and this should keeprising until maturity. We sell all the bales to Terravesta, the miscanthus specialists,and we know what the price is for years to come, he says.
Terravestasupply the rhizomes to plant the crop, and buy back the bales destined forbiomass pelleting, and they offer ten year, index-linked contracts.
For farmerslooking to diversify into better crops for marginal land, miscanthus is a nobrainer. And its eligible for Basic Payment as a Permanent Crop. Id say bebold and make a decision based on the facts, and come along on the day to findout about it, says David.
If you have a fieldthat doesnt do well, plant miscanthus because its a good steady income. Wegrow it on three different soil types, it fits really well into the arable rotationbecause its harvested from March to April, and you can use the machineryyoure not using at other key times of the year, adds David.
Miscanthus farm walk at Friars Farm
Held by kindpermission of David and Christopher Sargent
Date and time:29 October 2015, 10.30 am
Address: FriarsFarm, Morningthorpe, Norfolk, NR15 2QL
Format: Coffeeand registration, followed by a presentation from Terravesta, a tour of thefarm and a light lunch
Bookings: Book online http://www.terravesta.com/by clicking on the orange sash on the home page, e-mail Helen Holman on [email protected] or call AlisonFisher on 01522 731873 as this helps with catering arrangements.