To achieve net zero greenhouse gas emission by 2050 as set out by the 2019 amendment to the 2008 UK Climate Change Act, a major shift towards renewable energy is needed. This includes the development of new methods along with improving and upscaling existing technologies. One example of new methods in bioenergy is developing new Miscanthus cultivars for electricity generation via thermal power station furnaces. Miscanthus is still relatively new compared to other agriculture practices, so market assessments and improvements are needed to reduce the barriers of entry for prospective growers. This publication provides a profile of UK Miscanthus growers and their businesses, their experiences of benefits and drawbacks of the crop, and what they see as potential barriers to entry for prospective farmers. A survey of current Miscanthus growers in England and Wales was conducted and indicated that most farmers were content with the crop, and that its environmental and economic benefits were noted. However, it was evident that with a geographically limited UK market, growers wanted to see a better distribution of biomass processing stations to reduce the ongoing costs of transport. With growing demand for renewables, including bio-energy sources, it was determined important to provide information and support for stable farming operations and to incentivise the adoption of Miscanthus. Such incentives include ongoing development of new cultivars, focussing on traits such as production potential and stressor resilience, and growers indicated preference for an annual planting grant. These developments are predicted to further improve the crop’s profit margin, making it a more cost-effective crop for farmers. Sensitively managed Miscanthus also has the potential to contribute to carbon sequestration, soil health and aspects of farmland biodiversity. Incentivising such management in government land based environmental schemes would offer additional income streams and help to promote environmental positive crop planting.
Bibliographical noteResearch Funding
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Grant Number: BB/V011553/1
EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Additive Manufacturing. Grant Number: EP/S000771/1
UK Supergen Bioenergy Hub. Grant Number: RG15855
- bioenergy policy
- grower survey
- net zero strategy
- sustainable agriculture
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