USDA-ARS Scientists Boost Barley for Bioenergy

Scientists from the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture "are developing new sustainable technologies to convert varieties of hulled and hull-less winter "energy" barley into fuel ethanol". Their efforts are aimed to make barley a major player in bioenergy production, and could also help farmers in some parts of the United States develop a profitable 2-year rotation of winter barley, corn, and soybeans. Barley acts as a cover crop with two benefits:  helps protect soil/nutrients and  prevents migration of fertilizers from crop fields to the Chesapeake Bay. Since winter barley is grown on seasonally fallow land, producing biofuels from winter barley would not interfere with food production. Scientists from the USDA-ARS Plant Science Research Unit are reportedly "just a few years into making crosses between hull-less barley and barley with resistance to Ug99, a stem rust that can inflict crop losses of up to 100 percent". Once robust lines have been developed containing both traits, the breeding of traits to enhance ethanol production will be done..


This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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