Miscanthus: Planting and Growing (PB5421)

Site Selection and Planning

As with any crop that is likely to be in the ground for a number years, it is important that a number of issues (such as landscape, wildlife value, archaeology and public access) are considered in the selection of a site. Miscanthus, once established can grow to 3.5 m in height, it is therefore important to consider the visual impact this might have on the local landscape, especially if the site is close to a footpath or a favourite local view.

Miscanthus has the potential to encourage a greater diversity of wildlife than some agricultural crops. This potential is most likely to be realised if it is grown as one component of a mixed cropping pattern and if it is located in an area of low conservation value or as a link between existing habitats. Care must be taken to prevent this new habitat from adversely affecting existing habitats, especially those within existing conservation areas.

Details of land which is eligible, the environmental standards you must observe and the assessment of your application which will take place can be found in the Energy Crops Explanatory Booklet. If you are unsure about any of these requirements you should seek advice from DEFRAs office at Crewe.


Pre-Planting Requirements

Thorough site preparation is essential for good establishment, ease of subsequent crop management and high yields. As the crop has the potential to be in the ground for at least 15 years, it is important that it is established correctly to avoid future problems.

The first step, in the autumn before planting, is to spray the site with an appropriate broad spectrum herbicide (e.g. glyphosate) for controlling perennial weeds. The site should be sub-soiled if necessary to remove compaction, then ploughed and left to over-winter. On light soils it may be more appropriate to spring plough. This will allow frost activity to break down the soil further. This may also help prevent ley pests attacking the newly established plants, as any larvae or eggs already in the soil from the previous crop will have insufficient food over the winter to survive. In the following spring the site should be rotovated immediately prior to planting. This will not only improve establishment by aiding good root development but will also improve the effectiveness of any residual herbicides applied after planting.

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