A Terravesta-hosted farm walk aimed at showcasing the benefits of growing Miscanthus is set to take place in Daventry on Thursday, March 2.

The biotechnology and miscanthus specialist company will host the event, which will feature Tom and Rachel Jeffries and their miscanthus crops, from 9:30a.m to 11:30a.m on the day and will deliver a presentation and a tour of the crop.

Tom initially planted 23ha of miscanthus in 2008 and later added another seven hectares in 2021. Being driven by depressed arable prices, Terravesta said Tom remains “pleased” with how miscanthus has slotted into his farm operation.

“In 2008 prices were pretty depressed on the arable side, set-aside was ending and there was a planting grant available,” Tom said.

“The majority of the field hadn’t ever been cropped as an arable field because it didn’t suit arable cropping, so it had just been set aside.

“We decided that, due to the topography of the field, we’d plant 14ha of miscanthus in it, but because we needed to make up a viable area, we also took two awkward corners out of other fields and used it to define where a footpath should be.”

Crop performance

Tom found the establishment of the miscanthus crop tricky, due to a heavy deer population at his farm, but said that he has been impressed with the crop’s performance since.

Image: Terravesta

“Miscanthus does well on this less productive land overall and it fits in well with the rest of our farming operations, due to a spring harvest,” he said.

“Once it is baled in April we store the bales in our grain store, before they’re moved on before the cereal harvest.” 

Terravesta has said that growing miscanthus provides benefits from its ability to store carbon to its benefits for soil health. The crop is perennial, so the soil does not need to be ploughed.

Now that miscanthus is eligible for Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) payments following new standards announced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in January, Terravesta hopes more farmers will be incentivised to grow the crop.

Terravesta’s chief operating officer, Alex Robinson, said: “It is fantastic news that miscanthus growers will be able to claim Sustainable Farming Incentive payments to acknowledge the work they’re doing to help the industry and country fulfil its environment and climate goals.

“Miscanthus improves the health and functionality of the soil to deliver multiple benefits and outcomes. It also provides farmers with a stable income from less productive land.

“Terravesta works with miscanthus growers all over the UK, to service large and small-scale energy markets.

“We look forward to meeting farmers interested in growing miscanthus at a farm walk this spring and chatting to them about our long-term buy-back contracts.”