Planting Marginal Farmland to Bioenergy Crops Offers Multiple Benefits

Researchers from Argonne National Laboratory reported at the annual meeting of The Geological Society of America that planting perennial bioenergy crops such as shrub willow and switchgrass could make marginal farmland useful and potentially profitable. The research focused initially on how the bioenergy crops on marginal land could prevent erosion and collect excess nutrients to protect water quality. However, researchers found that the shrub willow and switchgrass plantings had other benefits, as well: they can provide biomass for biofuel, offer a resource for pollinators and other wildlife, and provide other ecosystem services.