Miscanthus biomass options for contaiminated and marginal land: quality, quantity and soil interactions. (MISCOMAR)

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Funding

  • FACCEJPI- Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change- EU: £99,723.57

Funder Project Reference(s)

ID: 56 MISCOMAR
Effective start/end date01 Jun 201630 May 2019

Description

Bioenergy is a key element of the EU renewables strategy and exists at the interface of policies on agriculture/land use and energy generation. Currently the majority of biofuels are produced from food crops grown on agricultural land, whereas the majority of solid biomass used for heat and power is woody and comes from forests. The European Commission is proposing significant changes to the current approach due to sustainability issues. In order to avoid tension between food and fuel production, energy crops should be grown on medium or low quality agricultural land wherever possible. The primary objective of this project is to develop techniques for biomass production on marginal land in Europe by a) improving the understanding of land suitability for Miscanthus cultivation in general and especially on marginal land and b) developing concepts for sustainable integration of Miscanthus on farm and landscape levels. These concepts include utilisation of heavy metal contaminated land, sustainable intensification of marginal land and ecological and environmental improvement of intensively managed arable land. The project will consider both the impact of the crop on soil health and condition, and the impact of these soil parameters on the crop itself and on potential end uses in relation to crop quality. The main objectives of the project are: 1) investigate the field performance of novel, stress tolerant Miscanthus hybrids in comparison to the standard genotype M. x giganteus on economically marginal (low grade arable, Unterer Lindenhof, Germany) and heavy metal contaminated soils (Katowice, Poland) 2) quantify the impacts of Miscanthus production on soil parameters and quantify any beneficial effects for soil fertility and crop production 3) identify utilisation options for biomass from novel Miscanthus hybrids and study the impact of varying environmental conditions, e.g. heavy metal contamination, on potential Miscanthus end uses 4) develop concepts for the integration of Miscanthus into existing landscapes, crop rotations and farming systems, based on data and information generated during the MISCOMAR project and from farmer surveys. Results will be disseminated widely and provide information about Miscanthus biomass production options and how they might fit into, or even replace, existing systems. The innovative character of this project is a holistic approach which combines the identification of suitable utilisation options, especially for biomass from contaminated land, and the integration of Miscanthus cultivation into landscapes and crop rotations. The gathered data and the developed model concepts of the project will help to inform strategic agricultural policy development for increased sustainability and reduced environmental impact. Further, the project results will offer economically viable production alternatives for land less suitable or unsuitable for food production, with reduced risk for heavy metal introduction into the food-chain.