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Permalink Research Shows Potential of Miscanthus for Biomass Production in Iowa

Research led by Emily Heaton at Iowa State University shows 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. The research, published in Industry Crops and Products, looked at Miscanthus x giganteus, a sterile hybrid of the plant that cannot reproduce from seed and spreads slowly, so wouldn't be invasive in crops. Heaton suggests that farmers could plant miscanthus on areas of their fields that don't produce corn profitably. Aside from potentially providing farmers income from the sale of biomass, miscanthus and other perennial grasses planted on marginal and subprime land can prevent soil erosion and protect water quality. Heaton is studying a range of perennial grasses, including switchgrass and prairie cordgrass. Her vision for Iowa's farmland resembles a patchwork quilt where perennial grasses and prairieland grow alongside corn and soybeans.

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