New study shows producers where and how to grow cellulosic biofuel crops

February 11, 2018 |

In Illinois, a multi-institution report provides practical agronomic data for five cellulosic feedstocks, which could improve adoption and increase production across the country. The project, backed by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Sun Grant Initiative, began in 2008 and includes researchers from 26 institutions. Together, they evaluated the bioenergy potential of switchgrass, Miscanthus, sorghum, energycane, and prairie mixtures in long-term trials spanning a wide geographical area. Crops were grown for five to seven years in multiple locations and with varying levels of nitrogen fertilizer. No one feedstock “won” across the board.

According to the research, the greatest yield potentials for lowland switchgrass varieties are in the lower Mississippi valley and the Gulf coast states, whereas Miscanthus and prairie mixture yields are likely to be greatest in the upper Midwest. Energycane could reach very high yields, but in a relatively limited portion of the country. However, the crop that shows the highest potential yields in the greatest number of locations is sorghum. The annual crop is highly adaptable to various conditions and might be easier for farmers to work with.

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Category: Research

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