FARMERS AND landowners are being urged to consider maximising their returns and reducing their risk with Miscanthus – a renewable energy crop with a ready market.

Produced for a number of commercial uses, including renewable power generation, livestock bedding and domestic fuels, the crop thrives on unproductive farm land and guarantees returns on long-term contracts.

Promising this move away from the price volatility associated with traditional agricultural markets, Miscanthus specialist Terravesta works with growers to facilitate planting, providing agronomic support, securing markets and offering long term index-price-linked contracts. The firm is looking for growers to plant its own hybrids varieties in spring 2021, to meet increased demand.

The perennial energy crop can grow to heights of up to 12 feet and has the potential to yield 15 tonnes per hectare, which can give the farmer a return of £900/ha after establishment costs have been paid back. Terravesta's 'Performance Hybrids' claim to provide an average net profit of £558/ha over 15 years.

"Miscanthus is ideally suited to lower grade, unproductive marginal land," said 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."

In particular, the company 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," added Mr Cracoft-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.