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Stable income in uncertain times

Farmers looking to hedge the uncertainty of Brexit are being invited to consider growing miscanthus, an energy crop that offers a long-term, stable income, as well as helping the environment.

Miscanthus is a hardy perennial crop that’s harvested annually and has the potential to give the farmer a return of over £900 per hectare from mature yield. The crop grows up to 14 feet high, providing a fantastic habitat for wildlife, and it also benefits soils and absorbs more carbon than it releases in its lifetime.

Yorkshire farmer, Richard McNeil, is showcasing his miscanthus crop on a farm walk taking place on 28 February so that other farmers can see how it has worked for him.

“We planted 24 hectares of miscanthus is 2008, when cereal crops were making £60 per tonne, and it’s offered a stable income since,” said Richard.

“We’re thinking of planting more miscanthus, because it’s a low input crop which generally takes care of itself, and its harvested in the spring, meaning labour and farm machinery is available and the price of contracting isn’t as competitive as the summer months.”

Not only has the crop benefitted the farm business financially, according to Richard, it has increased the biodiversity on the farm and soil records show that over eight years, with no fertiliser applied to the miscanthus, the soil has maintained the same level of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus (NPK).

“The limited inputs in miscanthus, the benefits to wildlife, soil health, and the price security means that it’s a no brainer for me,” he said.

“Terravesta has long term contracts with power stations, which in turn, have long term government support.”

Increased demand for miscanthus from Brigg power station in Lincolnshire and Snetterton in Norfolk means more planting is needed in surrounding counties, including Yorkshire.

The farm walk is run by Terravesta, the miscanthus supply chain specialists behind the growth of the miscanthus market. The Terravesta team will outline the life-cycle of the crop, and harvest best practice and timings. They will offer planting advice, inform on machinery requirements, update on the limited crop inputs needed, and financial returns available.

Delegates will also have the chance to view miscanthus fields, ask questions, and be given a light lunch, where there will be the opportunity to chat with the team and other farmers about the crop.

Book today to secure your place by visiting www.terravesta.com and clicking on the orange sash on the home page, or by emailing Jacob Duce at jacobd@terravesta.com

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