B.Rauscher, I. Lewandowski – Perennial Biomass Crops for a Resource Constrained World.

“Traditionally horses are bedded on straw or shavings. However, other bedding materials may perform better than these with respect to hygiene and labour requirements. The objective of this study is to compare various alternative bedding materials, in particular miscanthus, with straw and to elaborate recommendations for their optimal use. For this purpose a field trial was performed in a horse stable with four different bedding materials, namely wood chip (shavings), miscanthus chips, miscanthus pellets and straw. Operation time and costs were recorded. The water-holding and ammonium absorption capacity of the bedding material was measured in a laboratory analysis.

The amount of material and time required for handling and transporting bedding material and manure are lowest for miscanthus because of its high water- and ammonia-binding capacity.

It is concluded that miscanthus bedding can be recommended for professional equestrian sport, which would benefit from the short time frame required for mucking out and the better health of the horses. Respiratory diseases and allergic reactions of horses can be reduced by the low dust emissions and high water- and ammonia-holding capacity of miscanthus. Miscanthus bedding is also of interest for horse farms with limited manure storage and disposal opportunities, which is often the case for farms in urban areas.”

“Two studies, one at IACR-Rothamsted and another in Germany, comparing miscanthus with cereals, indicated that miscanthus seemed to provide a habitat which encourages a greater diversity of species than winter sown cereal crops. In these studies three times as many earthworms and spiders were found in the miscanthus crop, miscanthus also supported a greater diversity of spider species. One of the studies also showed that the miscanthus crop had 5 more mammal species and 4 more bird species than a crop of wheat. Miscanthus crops can also act as a nesting habitat for reed nesting birds, (e.g. reed warbler), later in the summer. Miscanthus might be a useful game cover crop and nursery for young pheasants and partridges. “