A miscanthus farm walk based in east Yorkshire will facilitate discussions on future proofing and Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) payments.
Organized by miscanthus specialist Terravesta, the farm walk will be held on east Yorkshire farmer Rob Meadley’s farm on Thursday, September 21.
Meadley will showcase his miscanthus crop to farmers interested in growing it as well as providing a breakdown of the latest SFI updates.
Meadley grows 12ha of miscanthus on varying quality, outlying land that previously was not delivering a viable return with arable crops, Terravesta said.
His miscanthus is 11 years old and he believes miscanthus is the right crop for his land, introducing additional ecological benefits to the farm.
“We’ve had a number of RSPB surveys done on the farm and the feedback was that they were genuinely surprised by the abundance and diversity of birds in and around the miscanthus, including curlews, rarely found in east Yorkshire,” Meadley said.
“We also saw breeding deer, brown hares, and an abundance of invertebrates.”
Meadley planted miscanthus in March 2012 in good conditions, but this was followed by the wettest April on record, meaning the freshly planted crop was in standing water, and the bad weather hit again in June, Terravesta said.
Meadley said the 2014 harvest was affected by the legacy of flooding and lack of weed control.
“Arable crops would never have survived the conditions that the miscanthus was exposed to, and we didn’t lose any money on inputs,” he said.
“The annual yield quickly recovered, and in 2017 and 2020, we had bumper harvests of over 13t/ha.”
“The crop has also helped to naturally control blackgrass in that area.”
Meadley said there would have been no other option for crop on his land that would have been as profitable.
“Back in 2012 when we decided to plant miscanthus, the principle was looking at the whole farm net margin and identifying the risk in this area,” he said.
“It wasn’t performing as well as other parts of the farm and miscanthus was 100% the right decision for it.
“The only other option for that land would have been environmental grass, but miscanthus beats this hands down from a net margin point of view.
“Miscanthus is a vitally important crop due to its soil carbon sequestration capabilities and positive ecological impact, and with the uncertainty around farm subsidies under the Environmental Land Management (ELM) model, it provides a long-term fixed price, reliable income.”