Farmer plants Miscanthus to boost soil and income

Norfolk farmer Adam Brewer supplies an energy plant 35-miles away from his farm
Norfolk farmer Adam Brewer supplies an energy plant 35-miles away from his farm

A Norfolk farmer is increasing his income and boosting soil health by diversifying with the crop Miscanthus.

More farmers in the county are looking at planting the energy crop since Snetterton Renewable Energy Plant opened two years ago.

Adam Brewer, who is 35-miles away from the plant, manages his farm with his father.

The pair grow 16ha of Miscanthus, as well as wheat, barley, some maize and five hectares of Christmas trees.

Beside this, Adam also runs his own audio company. He said: “We were looking to diversify the business in a way that allowed me to continue with my audio work.

“The environmental impact of our farm is important to us. Miscanthus seemed like the ideal solution, with a very local market,”

Terravesta are looking to work with more farmers and growers within East Anglia to supply the crop.

The company has a long-term contract with Snetterton Plant for the supply of 25,000 tonnes of whole bales each year.

Alex Robinson, general manager at Terravesta, said: “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.”

As of July, Adam's crop is 2.5 metres tall and it has hardly any inputs, but he stressed the importance of pre-emergent herbicide directly after panting.

“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,” he said.

“The crop is full of wildlife and we’re looking forward to our first harvest early 2020.”

He added: “It’s clear that farming needs to be more sustainable. We’ve tried to switch to minimum tillage as much as possible and Miscanthus will hopefully help our soils to recover from intensive farming over the years.”