Establishing the crop

Both Miscanthus and willow are planted in the spring, and getting plants off to a good start is key to maximising profitability for the farmer. Miscanthus plug plants are generally planted under mulch film in order to protect the plant from drought and frost. Willow is typically planted as sticks cut from 1 year old dormant stems. In order to minimise competition by weeds in the first year or two of growth, herbicides are often used, although machinery is being developed that may allow mechanical weeding instead. We will grow plots of Miscanthus and willow and test 5 different methods for establishing the crop, in order to test their effectiveness. We will also investigate the impacts of soil additives such as biochar.