Study shows better yield potential for miscanthus in Iowa

July 28, 2014 |

In Iowa, miscanthus would deliver even better yields than once thought in Iowa, according to research by agronomists at Iowa State University. The research indicates that miscanthus, a towering grass native to Asia, could have a major role to play in the future of Iowa agriculture, both as a source of biomass for energy and as a means of protecting the environment, said Emily Heaton, an assistant professor of agronomy, project leader and co-author of the study.

The paper, published earlier this year in the journal Industry Crops and Products, looked at Miscanthus x giganteus, a sterile hybrid of the plant that cannot reproduce from seed and spreads slowly. The paper found that the miscanthus hybrid had low mortality rates when faced with harsh Iowa winters.

The article also reports that yields in the second year of the study were not significantly lower than the third year. That’s important because miscanthus usually doesn’t hit its peak production until the third year, Heaton said.

Heaton is working to figure out just what place miscanthus and other perennial grasses should have in the Iowa agricultural landscape. She said between 10 and 20 percent of acres devoted to corn lose money for Iowa farmers every year. Those sections produce lower yields than the surrounding acres, usually due to patchy or poor soil conditions.

 

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Category: Research

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