New Energy Farms is developing a totally new system for establishing Miscanthus and other perennial energy crops, a development which is urgently required by the rapidly expanding market. The system under development from NEF is fundamentally cheaper than current vegetative options, produces the same vigorous growth as more expensive plug plants, but is as easy to drill as a seed. The system is also expected to reduce the time taken to first yield, and also overcomes many of the agronomy issues associated with seed establishment. It allows for the first time perennial energy crops to be automatically precision drilled like row crops, but at a fraction of the cost. The technique can be easily scaled up so large-scale projects requiring 50,000 Ha are easily implementable.
The system is applicable to both vegetative and seed based systems, using a new propagule system, which allows fully automatic drilling of the energy crop into min or even no till seed beds. Current systems for establishing Miscanthus are effective, but the scale of the forward market requires new solutions so they can be implemented faster, and potentially without grant support.
The system can also be used to rapidly propagate vegetative energy crops, in one 1/3 of the time of current options, which will allow new cultivars to enter the market more rapidly. The NEF system provides a solution for all three primary customers in the energy crop sector, genetics providers, farmers and end users. NEF are already working with one genetics provider of Miscanthus to utilize this system to bring a new cultivar to market, in a much shorter period of time than previously considered possible. The system is fully aligned to the NEF IT system under development with Muddy Boots which will provide a completely vertically integrated biomass supply chain for agronomy, genetics royalty collection and trading to end users.