Interest in Miscanthus is growing rapidly and Miscanthus New Zealand (MNZ) has had a number of enquiries from people wanting to order small quantities to establish tiny trial areas of Miscanthus on their properties. These will all be interesting but MNZ is conscious of the fact that they give little information on the possibilities for commercial scale planting. In some cases there are issues that arise in small areas that are insignificant in commercial scale planting – such as rabbit damage. In other cases there may be issues that are generally not a problem small scale planting that can become important in larger scale plantings – such as plant management between delivery and planting.
MNZ has also had approaches from two people who plan to plant significant areas of Miscanthus in the coming year or two and who want to start with a demonstration area this year.
These are all good moves and MNZ is happy to facilitate this. But we have had to put together a Miscanthus plant cost schedule that progressively increases the cost per plant for smaller numbers. This will be posted on the website soon.
At the other end of the scale, MNZ has been approached by the developer of a hybrid biomass processing facility that is to be based in Northland and that will require large quantities of Miscanthus feedstock material – several hundred thousand tonnes per year. They plan to offer landowners / feedstock suppliers a firm contract for a minimum of 15 – 20 years with a similar right of renewal included. At the moment this projects looks very likely to proceed. When it does, MNZ believes that it will compete on a commercial basis with almost all other land use options because of the certainty of future income that it will give to landowners. We are not aware of any other primary land use that can offer such long term certainty of demand and price.
MNZ has started discussions with potentially interested investment partners who have the capacity to help in funding and managing development of the capacity to establish sufficient area of Miscanthus to service such a project. Other potentially interested participants, including interested Northland landowners, should contact MNZ using the contact form on our website to express their interest.
For a number of reasons MNZ has in the past few weeks been moving its base of operations from in the vicinity of Rotorua to the Waikato. We are establishing an office in Te Awamutu and will have a new telephone number and physical address during June. In the meantime, MNZ can be contacted through my cell phone (027) 498 4241 by email to or by mail to our new postal address at PO Box 581, Te Awamutu 3840.
The following photograph – taken by Dr Rocky Renquist of Bioenergy Cropping Solutions Limited – shows one of the Miscanthus trials in Hawkes Bay, as it was on 31 May 2013. Much of the brown, recently senesced area nearest the camera had received some accidental irrigation during the 2013 summer drought, had grown well and had senesced after the first frosts as expected. The area that is still green was the area that was in general most affected by the drought but which greened up rapidly as soon as the rains came. It has yet to senesce. We will watch with interest to see when this area senesces fully.