Demonstrator Hub Update – NIAB, Headley Hall – February 2024

15 March 2024

February 2024 – Headley Hall Demonstrator Hub Update

Headley Hall Site Plan

Headley Hall Site Plan

The Headley Hall site has experienced some high winds over the winter, along with very wet conditions similar to those experienced at other demonstrator hubs. Generally things have been looking good during these dormant months and signs of Spring are now starting to become evident within some of the crops.

Maintenance and general checks have been carrying on throughout the winter and there is a lot of work to do to prepare for the grasses demo programme which is due to start in March.

The SFI mix has not yet been planted around the 0.5 ha Miscanthus plots or as paths within the trials as the weather hasn’t be conducive to doing so.

Crop Diaries

Click on the titles below to find out how each of the crops are progressing.


Most of the trees in the SRF Alder plot are looking good with no wind damage visible and all tree guards still in place. Plants for gapping up were received on January 23rd and dead trees have now been replaced

The buds are now swelling on the Alder.

Black Locust

There was some persistent pest damage to the SRF Black Locust ‘Turbo’ earlier in the winter but after some controls were put in place this seems to have died off for now. The trees seem to be holding up well to wind rock.

The SRF Black Locust ‘Turbo Obelisk’ is still quite small so they have been weeded around to keep them visible.


There was some early frost damage to the leaves on some of the SRF Eucalyptus at Headley Hall. Strong winds also caused some rocking and bending of the plants. These were stood back up and bamboo canes were put back in the ground on a more solid footing.


The SRF Poplar has been holding up well to the strong winds, but the occasional tree with dead roots had fallen over earlier in the winter. There have been no new deaths since these. There is no evidence of budding yet.

The SRC Poplar is all looking good. It has held up well to the winds and the trees are starting to bud.


The 0.5ha Miscanthus Giganteus plot at Headley Hall saw some wind damage early in the year. Many of the leaves have dropped to the ground, but some plants are still green at the stool. It would be good to spray and cut the Miscanthus Giganteus but the green stems are preventing this.

The 2023 Miscanthus variety trial plot has seen some damage from the winds with some broken canes but the stools are still intact and the area is fairly free of weeds.

The 2024 Miscanthus variety trial plot is still to be ploughed, but this will be done once the weather is suitable.


Weeding of volunteer rape has been carried out in the 0.5ha SRC willow plot and glyphosate applied to the weed stumps.

There was some early winter hare damage to the SRC willow variety trial plants but this has now ceased. These plots need harvesting as soon as the weather allows as some varieties have already budded and there are some green leaves on show.


The Sida plot area has been ploughed ready for the start of the grasses trial.

Reed Canary Grass

The Reed Canary Grass plot area has been ploughed ready for the start of the grasses trial.


The Switchgrass plot area has been ploughed ready for the start of the grasses trial.

Plans and Actions

  • The grasses demo plots need to be sown once the seed arrives and the weather is suitable.
  • The Willow variety trial needs to be harvested.
  • The area around the trial still has not been worked for the SFI mix to go around the 0.5ha misc. or in the middle of the trials as grass paths. We are waiting for the better warmer weather to get this job done.
  • We are waiting to take the fence down as this will need to be removed to get the SFI and grass areas sown.
  • A Biomass Connect demo day is to be hosted at the North Wyke Demonstrator Hub on May 16th.

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