Miscanthus: Planting and Growing (PB5421)

Biodiversity

Two studies, one at IACR-Rothamsted and another in Germany, comparing miscanthus with cereals, indicated that miscanthus seemed to provide a habitat which encourages a greater diversity of species than winter sown cereal crops. In these studies three times as many earthworms and spiders were found in the miscanthus crop, miscanthus also supported a greater diversity of spider species. One of the studies also showed that the miscanthus crop had 5 more mammal species and 4 more bird species than a crop of wheat. Miscanthus crops can also act as a nesting habitat for reed nesting birds, (e.g. reed warbler), later in the summer. Miscanthus might be a useful game cover crop and nursery for young pheasants and partridges. 

Within the area for which establishment grant is applied, up to 10% can be left as open ground where this is used for management or environmental purposes. The wildlife value of this crop could be increased by the inclusion of rides and headlands to increase the number and species of flora and fauna. The use of grass headlands around the crop will protect edge habitats which are particularly important for wildlife by preventing shading to existing habitat. Headlands may also act as a sacrifice crop for rabbits or deer to feed on and thus reduce any damage they may cause to the newly established crop and they will also improve the access to the site, particularly at harvest.

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