Farmers and landowners are urged to consider maximising returns and reducing risk with Miscanthus – a renewable energy crop with a rising market demand.

Produced for an increased number of markets, including renewable power generation, livestock bedding, domestic fuels and many more, the crop thrives on unproductive farmland and guarantees returns on long-term contracts, promising a move away from the price volatility associated with traditional agricultural markets.

Terravesta is the world-leading Miscanthus specialist, and works with growers to facilitate planting, provide agronomic support, secure lucrative markets and offers long-term index-price-linked contracts.

The firm is looking for growers to plant its own Terravesta Performance HybridsTM in spring 2021, to meet increased demand.

The perennial energy crop can grow to heights of up to 12ft and has the potential to yield 15t/ha, which can give the farmer a return of £900/ha after establishment costs have been paid back.

Terravesta Performance HybidsTM provide an average net profit of £558/ha over 15 years.

‘Low input, high output option’

“Miscanthus is ideally suited to lower grade, unproductive marginal land,” says Terravesta chairman, William Cracroft-Eley.

“It’s a low input, high output option, and once established, no fertiliser is required, as the rhizome recycles nitrogen back into the soil.”

Terravesta is looking for more growers to help to meet the increased demand from whole bale power stations and emerging markets.

“We’re offering growers 10-year retail price index-linked contracts,” said Cracroft-Eley.

Markets for large-scale heat and power generation are growing and there are exciting second-generation markets emerging from biorefining Miscanthus for advanced end-uses, including degradable bio-plastics, pharmaceuticals, bio-ethanol and biogas production, as well as fibre uses for construction, materials and furniture.

The firm is also progressing a standardised approach to measuring and auditing Miscanthus carbon storage, enabling farmers to have a framework for carbon trading.

Earlier this year a report from the Committee on Climate Change, entitled “Land use: Policies for a net zero UK”, states that expanding biomass crops by around 23,000ha each year would deliver 2MtCO2e emissions savings in the land sector and an extra 11 MtCO2e from the harvested biomass when used for construction or bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), for example.

Terravesta is working with world-leading plant scientists to develop new Miscanthus Performance HybridsTM, aiming to further build on the improvements of the rhizome-based variety Terravesta AthenaTM launched by the firm in 2019, with the added benefit of being cultivated from seed.

“This will mean that new markets for the crop will need to continue to develop,” added Cracroft-Eley.