A BREAK from continuous arable cropping which should improve soil health is the aim of a Norfolk farmer's diversification into growing miscanthus for a local power station.

Adam Brewer is planning for the future by diversifying his income and looking after his soils by growing the crop thanks to input from a specialist in this area,

Terravesta. Alex Robinson, general manager at Terravesta, said that more farmers were looking at planting miscanthus since Snetterton Renewable Energy Plant opened in 2017.

“Adam’s farm is 35 miles away from Snetterton and we’re looking to work with growers within East Anglia to supply it. Terravesta has a long-term contract with the plant for the supply of 25,000 tonnes of whole bales each year,” said Alex. “Many farmers are not only reaping the financial benefits of the crop - studies also suggest that miscanthus can contribute to soil organic matter, earthworm diversity and stabilised soil structure.”

Adam Brewer, who manages the farm with his father, alongside running his own audio company, said: “We were looking to diversify the business in a way that allowed me to continue with my audio work and the environmental impact of our farm is important to us. Miscanthus seemed like the ideal solution, with a very local market. Like most farms, some of our land needed a rest and with Miscanthus, the soil is largely untouched for the lifetime of the crop, which can be up to 20 years.”

His farm grows 16 ha of miscanthus, as well as wheat, barley, some maize and 5ha of Christmas trees and he added: “The crop is 2.5m tall already and it’s mid-July. It has next to no inputs, although I’d stress the importance of pre-emergent herbicide directly after panting. The crop is full of wildlife and we’re looking forward to our first harvest early 2020.

“It’s clear that the farming sector needs to be more sustainable. We’ve tried to switch to minimum tillage on the farm as much as possible and the miscanthus will hopefully help our soils to recover from intensive farming over the years and leave them in better shape for future generations,” added Adam.