Findings prove Miscanthus x giganteus has great potential as an alternative energy source

Jan 19, 2012
Findings prove Miscanthus x giganteus has great potential as an alternative energy source. Credit: Photo by Tom Voigt, University of Illinois

Concerns about the worldwide energy supply and national, environmental and economic security have resulted in a search for alternative energy sources. A new University of Illinois study shows Miscanthus x giganteus (M. x giganteus) is a strong contender in the race to find the next source of ethanol if appropriate growing conditions are identified.

M. x giganteus is a bioenergy crop that can be grown to produce ethanol. The study investigated the establishment success, plant growth and dry biomass yield of the grass. Tom Voigt, lead scientist and associate professor in the U of I Department of , said the overall goal is to promote biomass yield per acre for using the fewest inputs with no environmental damage.

Researchers compared establishment and growth rates, and biomass yield at four locations over the past three years to identify regions best suited for the grass. Data was collected at sites in Urbana, Ill.; Lexington, Ky.; Mead, Neb.; and Adelphia, N.J. The study is part of the Department of Energy-funded North Central Sun Grant Partnership Project.

The growing conditions were adequate at each location in different years. However, late planting and extreme during 2008 affected establishment rates at the Illinois site. Lower yields occurred at the New Jersey site in 2010, which could be attributed to the site's sandy soils and warm, dry weather conditions in that year.

"For the most part, we found that Miscanthus responds to sites in which water is adequately available," Voigt said. "The combination of and adequate precipitation spread throughout the growing season creates ideal growing conditions."

Voigt said the study increased researcher's understanding of how different environments impact M. x giganteus growth, development and biomass yield. In addition, they discovered positive environmental impacts.

had no significant effects on the grass's biomass yield in season two or three at any site. M. x giganteus also promotes erosion control as the perennial forms a large mass of roots underground.

"We are trying to develop a recipe for management practices that can be used by farmers interested in growing the grass," Voigt said. "We want bioenergy crops to find their way into more marginal settings where ground is less easy to work with. Miscanthus can work where food crops can't."

Voigt said the results of the study are positive and prove that energy crops have great potential as .

Explore further: Small doses of resistant starch encourage the growth of beneficial gut fauna

More information: This study, "Miscanthus x giganteus Productivity: The Effects of Management in Different Environments" was published in GCB BIOENERGY Volume 3, Issue 6, December 2011.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Miscanthus has a fighting chance against weeds

Jan 10, 2011

University of Illinois research reports that several herbicides used on corn also have good selectivity to Miscanthus x giganteus (Giant Miscanthus), a potential bioenergy feedstock.

Miscanthus adapts

Jun 06, 2011

An article in the current issue of Global Change Biology Bioenergy finds that natural populations of Miscanthus are promising candidates as second-generation energy sources because they have genetic variation that may in ...

Grasses have potential as alternate ethanol crop, study finds

Nov 01, 2010

Money may not grow on trees, but energy could grow in grass. Researchers at the University of Illinois have completed the first extensive geographic yield and economic analysis of potential bioenergy grass crops in the Midwestern ...

Growing sorghum for biofuel

Nov 10, 2010

Conversion of sorghum grass to ethanol has increased with the interest in renewable fuel sources. Researchers at Iowa State University examined 12 varieties of sorghum grass grown in single and double cropping systems. The ...

Recommended for you

Solving the Hox Specificity Paradox

Jan 22, 2015

The remarkable diversity of anatomical features along the body axis of animals—the differences between the head, the thorax and the abdomen, for example—is determined by proteins in the Hox family. But ...

The Facebook of plant science

Jan 21, 2015

By building PhotosynQ - a handheld device with sensors and an online data-sharing and analysis platform - a team of Michigan State University researchers is creating the plant-science equivalent of Facebook.

New computation method helps identify functional DNA

Jan 21, 2015

Striving to unravel and comprehend DNA's biological significance, Cornell scientists have created a new computational method that can identify positions in the human genome that play a role in the proper ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

blip
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 19, 2012
"For the most part, we found that Miscanthus responds to sites in which water is adequately available," Voigt said. "The combination of warm temperatures and adequate precipitation spread throughout the growing season creates ideal growing conditions."

Really? They needed a big study to determine warmth and water made the best growing conditions.
Burnerjack
5 / 5 (1) Jan 19, 2012
@Blip: "Well, yeah! They've got BMW payments to make and real studies are so, um, well, they're hard and not fun."
Sanescience
5 / 5 (1) Jan 20, 2012
Not to be negative, but ethanol is so last decade.

http://www.physor...ose.html

http://www.physor...ion.html

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.