Farmers invited to walk at East Walton to learn more about biomass crop miscanthus and its rising demand

Bailing miscanthus
Bailing miscanthus

Farmers are being invited to join a walk on a West Norfok farm to learn more about a biomass crop which is seeing increased demand.

Miscanthus, a perennial plant which grows up to 12 feet high, is used for burning at UK power stations. It has potential to yield 15 tonnes per hectare providing growers with a return of more than £900 per hectare from mature yield. Permission has been given by farmer Bill Lewis, of Abbey Farm, East Walton, for a walk to be staged by miscanthus supply chain specialists Terravesta on Thursday, May 25, providing an opportunity for other farmers to discover more about the crop’s life cycle and best harvest practice.

Delegates will hear how growing miscanthus on less productive farm land has worked for Mr Lewis’s farm business. The Terravesta team will offer advice on planting, machinery requirements and give an update on the limited crop inputs needed and financial returns.

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

Mr Lewis said: ““In 2013, we made the decision to plant 15 hectares of a field that historically was poor permanent pasture, prone to flooding. We tried growing winter wheat, sugar beet and linseed, but they all failed. It’s the sort of land that’s difficult to establish crops on, due to water logging. The land is low lying, at 20 feet below sea level, so the surrounding land drains into it. This meant we were spending a

fortune on preparing the seed beds, and on inputs.

Bill attributes the success of the crop to careful planning, planting preparation and aftercare for the first 12 months after planting.

He said: “We had 90 per cent establishment, and the support we’ve received from Terravesta has been invaluable. They advised on our herbicide regime, which is very important in the establishment year, and we treated to control twitch grass and meadow grass. We also erected

fencing to ward off rabbits, which can be a threat to the crop early on.”

Bookings for the free event which runs from 10.30am to 2pm, can be made on www.terravesta.com by clicking on the orange sash on the home page, or email Jacob Duce at jacobd@terravesta.com or call 01522 731873.