In addition to the markets, Miscanthus has been shown by Lincoln University to perform a very valuable shelter function on centre-pivot irrigated dairy farms in Canterbury, where conventional shelter cannot be provided by tree species because of the irrigation booms. Lincoln has shown that the shelter effect of Miscanthus on these sites more than makes up for the area taken up by the Miscanthus, so the net farm production can be increased. It is very likely that Miscanthus shelter on farms in other parts of the country, particularly where there is a problem with prevailing drying winds, will also prove to be well worthwhile and at the same time have the capacity to produce a product that is useful on the farm.
In addition, work by Fonterra has shown that leaching of nitrogen from below Miscanthus stands is extremely low, being at or below the level observed from pine plantations. This work is being carried out on a Miscanthus stand that has been irrigated with effluent from a dairy factory, so the nitrogen loading is higher than would be expected with normal rainfall. This has potential to significantly reduce nitrogen leaching into ground water or waterways. Places like Rotorua have funding available to assist in reduction of such nitrogen leaching. Many growers in the Rotorua area – and maybe others in localities where nitrogen is a problem – should be able to access quite significant funding to assist with conversion from pasture to Miscanthus.