Researchers see energy crops as way to boost soil health

February 24, 2016 |

In Illinois, scientists are exploring how grasses, and switchgrass in particular, can enrich the nation’s biofuel supply, which is currently dominated by corn, a crop relatively easy to convert to biofuel but also in demand for food, livestock feed and industrial products.

A team of national laboratory and university researchers led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory is exploring the other side of the production cycle: the farm. The team is growing large test plots of switchgrass crops with the farmer in mind. For the first time, researchers have mixed different genetic varieties of switchgrass on production-size plots, hypothesizing this could increase yield by extending the growing season, varying the size of the switchgrass plants to produce a fuller crop and potentially reducing the crop’s vulnerability to weather fluctuations.

The results of a seven-year study of these plots have been published in Global Change Biology-Bioenergy. The project was funded by the DOE Office of Science with support from the Argonne/UChicago Energy Initiative and grants from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: ,

Category: Research

Thank you for visting the Digest.