Miscanthus, A New Renewable Energy Crop

Farmers are being urged to consider growing Miscanthus, a renewable energy crop with advanced end-uses, including degradable bio-plastics, pharmaceuticals, bio-ethanol and biogas production, as well as fibre uses for construction, materials and furniture.

According to AgriLand, the crop can thrive on unproductive farmland and guarantees returns on long-term contracts, which is a move away from the volatility associated with the price of traditional agricultural markets.

Miscanthus specialist firm Terravesta has been working with growers of the crop to enable planting, agronomic support, and access to lucrative markets. The company is now looking for more growers to plant its Terravesta Performance HybridsTM in spring 2021 to meet the demand for the crop.

It can grow to heights of 12ft, with a potential to yield 15 tonnes per hectare, providing the farmer with a return on £900 per hectare after costs have been paid.

Terravesta chairman, William Cracroft-Eley said: “Miscanthus is ideally suited to lower grade, unproductive marginal land. It’s a low input, high output option, and once established, no fertiliser is required, as the rhizome recycles nitrogen back into the soil.”

There is a growing market for large-scale heat and power generation, as well as secondary markets for the biorefining of Miscanthus for products such as bio-ethanol.

Terravesta is also developing an approach to measuring and auditing carbon storage in Miscanthus, which would allow farmers to have a framework for carbon trading.

Terravesta is working with plant scientists to develop new Miscanthus Performance HybridsTM, 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.

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