New Energy Farms (NEF) and Miscanthus Nurseries Ltd (MNL) are pleased to announce their agreement to collaborate in Europe on the further development and introduction of new Miscanthus varieties and propagation systems developed by NEF.

The new propagation systems are focussed on delivering the maximum genetic yield potential of cultivars, whilst also providing a means for low cost plantation establishment. The work has commenced on Miscanthus, with a plan to expand to other species suitable for Europe. Miscanthus is a cold tolerant relative of sugarcane, a crop which is cultivated successfully via vegetative propagation on over 25 million hectares globally. This collaboration will combine learnings from both crops to deliver new systems for establishing sterile vegetative clones of Miscanthus in the EU. This is being combined with the introduction of new sterile varieties of Miscanthus for increased yield and production over more diverse environmental conditions. These new varieties are currently in multiplication in the EU.

NEF has expertise in propagation and development of perennial grasses for food fibre and fuel, and has developed new systems for crop propagation. These include the CEEDSTM technology, a totally new and patented multiplication and planting technology for crops which are vegetatively propagated effectively creating artificial seeds. This technology has already been successfully licensed to Syngenta in Brazil for use in the 10 million hectare sugar cane production area, to multiply and plant new plantations. Since 2010 NEF has also bred and selected new sterile Miscanthus cultivars at its research bases in Canada and the UK.

MNL has over 20 years’ experience in the UK and Europe commercializing Miscanthus x giganteus, and represents the leading Miscanthus farmer group. MNL operate from propagation and crop establishment through to crop harvesting and marketing into fuel and fibre markets. MNL is also active in the development of machinery and new end market opportunities for Miscanthus.

‘Investment in Miscanthus over the last 15 years has focussed on breeding and establishment using fertile seeded cultivars which have the potential to be invasive. NEF believe that the correct way forward for new introductions is that they should be high yielding, sterile, and with no potential to be invasive. With the ability to be productive on marginal land to support regenerative agriculture’. NEF already have expertise, through CEEDSTM technology, to provide innovative solutions to deliver artificial seed and other options to scale these crops to the level required to meet forward market requirements, using current and future Miscanthus selections’, said Dr Paul Carver, CEO of NEF.

‘Having been in the Miscanthus industry for over 20 years it is clear to me that we must focus all the resources available to us on capturing the full potential of Miscanthus x giganteus’ said Mike Cooper, Managing Director of MNL. ‘We are excited about the possibility of collaborating with NEF to explore how some of the plant technology they have developed could enhance establishment in Miscanthus crops. The best crops last year topped 15t/ha even in a dry year’.