Miscanthus Information Day

Date: Thursday 1st October 2015
Time: 2pm
Venue: Thornhill, Tullow, Co Carlow

  1. Demonstration of 2.5 MW Big Bale Burner Drying Grain
  2. Crop walk of Miscanthus (Yield 8.78 tonnes/ac Spring ‘15)
  3. Discussion on
    1. Maximising Yield Potential
    2. Market opportunities
    3. Maximising Profit

Contact: Paddy O’ Toole 087 2549234 & Dave Tyrrell 087 8257190

Miscanthus – Winner Alright!

The much maligned Miscanthus crop will simply not go away and for many very good and sound reasons it’s here to stay!, Reports Paddy O’Toole and David Tyrrell Quinns of Balthinglass LTD.

Yield and Profitability

Many crops harvested in 2015 have yielded from 5 to 9 tonnes per acre at circa 30% moisture content.
At our Centre of Excellence for Miscanthus at Thornhill,Tullow, Patrick Nolan harvested 8.78 tonnes per acre on 45 acres of a Miscanthus crop planted in the Spring of 2011.It was planted in very good fertile continuous tillage land at a higher than normal seeding rate. The crop has received annual applications of organic manures and weed control measures have been taken when necessary. The crop was harvested in chipped form as was seen in a recent Nationwide Programme.

At 8.78 tonnes per acre the economics of growing Miscanthus are both simple and clear cut;
Cost of transport to EPL@€22.50/tonne €197.55
(90kms from EPL)
Cost of harvesting €100/acre
Cost of organic fertiliser €25/acre
Cost of potassium fertiliser €25/acre
Cost of weed control €20/acre
Contribution to establishment cost €50/acre
  Total costs €417.55
  Nett Margin €255.09/acre


  1. There will probably be under the new REFIT scheme an increase in price to €7.50 per GJ–representing an extra€10 per tonne for chipped product delivered to EPL in 2016.
  2. If a grower is not already registered for Vat, an additional 5.2% will also be paid to the grower.

The following table gives the Gross Delivered value of product (based on€6.65/ GJ) pertaining to different combinations of yields/acre and moisture contents:

Yield Tonnes/Acre Moisture Content %;
35 30 25 20
5 €361 €395 €429 €463
6 €433 €474 €515 €556
7 €506 €553 €601 €649
8 €578 €632 €687 €741
9 €650 €711 €773 €834

Additional Markets for Miscanthus:

At the Centre of Excellence for Miscanthus in Thornhill,a 2.5 MW burner has recently been installed to replace fossil fuel for the drying of almost 40,000 tonnes of grain. Replacing commercial heating oil with big bales of Miscanthus @€85/ tonne will result in a reduction in the cost of fuel to the equivalent of 21 cents per litre for commercial heating oil!

The capital cost of installing the plant was circa €150,000 and with a saving of circa 40 cents / litre on heating oil, Patrick Nolan reckons he will recover all his capital expenditure costs easily within two years.

Patrick is very happy with his investment so far.“ The change to the biomass burner is really a no brainier – it is both very economical and efficient. Miscanthus,I find it gives a great burn and is very consistent in quality.”

Poultry and Equine Bedding

“Adversity makes for the strangest of bedfellows”! And so it is with Miscanthus – a dearth in the energy market sector up to now necessitated the acquisition of other potential markets. Would you believe that chicken feet is regarded as a delicacy in China and a significant export market exists. Miscanthus bedding, one of two by products processed at Norman Bradley’s recently installed bio energy chipping plant also near Tullow, Co Carlow is unlike straw bedding, excellent at eliminating “hock burn” which makes Miscanthus an ideal bedding for the poultry industry in the Cavan and Monaghan region. When the poultry sheds are cleaned out after circa six weeks, Miscanthus bedding, being biodegradable is reused as an excellent organic fertiliser. Miscanthus Equine Bedding which is both Aspergillus free and unpalatable is being processed for Quinns by Straw Chip, in Athy and is being sold nationwide by David Webb of Woodpecker Shavings.



  • Both Willow and Miscanthus are similar biomass crops in many respects.
  • Both are biomass crops with similar energy values.
  • Both are regarded as having positive biodiversity characteristics.
  • For absolutely no good or practical reason Miscanthus alone has been excluded as an eligible crop for Greening or Crop Diversification in the new Basic Payments Scheme.Both EU officials and our own Department personnel readily admitted that this omission was due to an oversight but unfortunately nothing has been done to date to redress this mistake.


Miscanthus alone has had the very significant Establishment Grant Scheme withdrawn – once confidence in the whole Miscanthus industry has been restored there will be a renewed interest in growing Miscanthus and the reintroduction of this scheme is vital to its success.

Remember that Ireland will face penalties of up to half a billion euros if it and it surely will fail to meet its heat renewable energy targets by 2020.

We just cannot sit idly by and allow this to happen when it is all the while very possible to significantly reduce these financial penalties by promoting and encouraging the efficient use of both Miscanthus and Willow biomass crops.


The indefinite and prolonged gestation period with respect to the introduction of the long anticipated “Renewable Energy Heat Incentive Scheme” has resulted in the complete stagnation of the whole Heat Renewable Energy Sector. The Industry will not invest in renewable energy burners until it has clarity with regard to the minutiae of the much heralded REHI


There must be something very wrong and ridiculous when as a consequence of the new Glas Scheme the situation arises where if I plough up ten acres of a high yielding Miscanthus crop planted in 2006,and replace it with some bird seed and permanent pasture I will be rewarded with an annual cheque in the post to the amount of €550/ acre!

The time for any further dithering and procrastination is over!

For further information contact: Paddy O’Toole 087 2549234 or David Tyrrell 087 8257190