Demonstrator Hub Update – Rothamsted Research – North Wyke – February 2024

14 March 2024

With the buds beginning to break at some of the Biomass Connect Demonstrator Hubs, it’s time for the first updates of the year. As we go into the second year of growth there should be lots to report throughout the year so we hope to bring you monthly updates once again. The first Demonstrator Hub update for 2024 is below with a new look.

February 2024 – North Wyke Demonstrator Hub Update

North Wyke Site Plan

North Wyke Site Plan

Generally across the North Wyke site things have been looking healthy whilst dormant over the winter. Conditions have been very wet except during cold snaps when it has been below freezing. Given the cold conditions, it could be likely that some of the less hardy varieties may not have survived.

Something is repeatedly making a hole under the fence. This can only be happening from the inside, so something is living in there. However, no grazing damage has been observed. The suspects are hares. We keep closing up the gap so one day they’ll find themselves on the outside and they should no longer be a problem.



Crop Diaries

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


The SRF Alder at the North Wyke Demonstrator Hub is healthy but last year’s growth is a little distorted in the plants that didn’t outgrow their spiral guards. Tooley tubes would have been better.

Additional Alder was received over the winter and the plots were gapped up in January.


Alder Plot with Gaps Filled during January 2024

Alder Plot with Gaps Filled during January 2024

Black Locust

The SRF Black Locust ‘Turbo’ has all been pushed over slightly by the wind but they are generally healthy.

The Black Locust ‘Turbo Obelisk’ is to be removed for re-planting to be scheduled.

Black Locust 'Turbo Obelisk'

Black Locust ‘Turbo Obelisk’ plot

Black Locust 'Turbo'

Black Locust ‘Turbo’


Over winter, Eucalyptus stakes have been replaced where necessary. E. nitens, one of the species less able to cope with the cold, was looking battered but not completely dead after the wind, rain, and cold weather.

Now that March is here, the SRF Eucalyptus is looking good. The E. gunnii is putting on growth already and the others look like they are about to start into growth.


Both the SRF and SRC Poplar at North Wyke are looking healthy but dormant as is expected at this time of year.

SRF Poplar

SRF Poplar

SRC Poplar

SRC Poplar


The 0.5 ha Miscanthus giganteus and 0.5 ha Miscanthus Athena plots are both healthy and dormant.

The 2023 Miscanthus variety trial is dormant and due to be consolidated from 5 repeats down to 3.

The 2024 Miscanthus variety plot is yet to be planted and needs spraying off around the edges.

Miscanthus Giganteus

Miscanthus Giganteus

2023 Miscanthus Variety Trial

2023 Miscanthus Variety Trial

Miscanthus Athena

Miscanthus Athena


The 0.5 ha SRC Willow plot is healthy and dormant.

The SRC Willow variety trial plot was harvested and cut down to 10cm on 20th & 21st February 2024. The plot needs weed control.


The Sida hermaphrodita is currently dormant but the plot is thick with weeds and needs treating.



Reed Canary Grass

The Reed Canary Grass failed to germinate last year. We are awaiting new seed.


We are awaiting the arrival of Switchgrass seed.


The Silphium seed has arrived but has not been sown yet.

Plans and Actions

  • The land is starting to dry out but is still muddy. No machinery is to go on until mid-March when we plan to spray the Miscanthus.
  • The areas that require Glysophate are in the process of being sprayed.
  • We have Silphium seed on site but no Reed Canary Grass seed.
  • We are awaiting the arrival of Switchgrass seed.
  • A Biomass Connect demo day is to be hosted at the North Wyke Demonstrator Hub on May 23rd.

Back to latest news

Latest News