THE business case for Miscanthus continues to strengthen in the face of rising uncertainty in the farming sector, due to attractive long-term contracts available and secure markets for the crop.

Colin Chappell, a miscanthus grower and AHDB Monitor farmer, manages 647 hectares of land along the River Ancholme in Brig, Lincolnshire, and grows 26ha of miscanthus on his unproductive land. Colin will be opening his farm on 21 March to those keen to explore the benefits of the crop on a breakfast Miscanthus farm walk, hosted by Terravesta and run in partnership with the CLA.

He said: “British farmers are stepping into the unknown. Our subsidy will disappear and miscanthus has numerous positive attributes including long-term financial security, robust growing markets and environmental benefits. With Miscanthus you have to take a long-term view and look at the guaranteed returns available from an upfront investment. Farming is shifting rapidly, and we must change our approach if we want to stay viable.”

Mr Chappell supplies miscanthus specialist Terravesta with whole bales which fuel Brigg Renewable Energy Plant, under a mile away from his farm, on a long-term contract. Terravesta has a 14-year contract with the power station, which in turn has long-term government support.

Jacob Duce, from Terravesta, said: “Miscanthus is a hardy perennial crop, with an average return of £562/ha over a 15-year period, and long-term fixed index linked contracts are available with Terravesta to grow and sell it. It takes approximately four to five years to make the money back but by year five growers are looking at approximately £700/ha net margin."

Mr Chappell said the benefits of miscanthus far outweigh the upfront investment: “I don’t worry about blackgrass on the fields of miscanthus, the leaf litter and high canopy combats it. The crop is low input, it stacks up nicely financially, it’s harvested in the spring when the rest of the farm is quiet, it’s carbon negative, it teems with wildlife and I can get 13 tonnes/ha easily on poor grade land, and that’s from a crop planted in 2006. Due to improved rhizome quality and planting techniques, new crops now have 90 per cent establishment on average and are likely to yield at least 15 tonnes/ha.”

A free breakfast miscanthus walk takes place on Mr Chappell's farm on March 21 from 9am to noon. It includes a free breakfast and will be hosted by Terravesta and run in partnership with the CLA. To book, visit