Prairie Cordgrass: A Potential Biofuel Crop
Crop scientists from the University of Illinois (UI) D.K. Lee, Lane Rayburn as well as colleagues at the Energy Biosciences Institute, are doing research on prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata), a native grass that has great potential for biofuel production. Prairie cordgrass has received more attention lately because it grows well on marginal land and "likes environments that are too wet for crop production", according to Lee.
Lee explained that, "One of the characteristics of this grass is that it has a strong rhizome and root system," thus, it is good for erosion control and conservation, particularly in riparian areas because it likes water. Other important characteristics of prairie cordgrass include salt tolerance and cold tolerance. Lee and his team planted it in fields that could no longer be used for crop production due to salty ground water and the grass grew pretty well. And though it is a warm-season grass, it starts growing in mid-March like a cool-season grass.
Rayburn said that what makes it perfect as a biomass grass is that it is a native species with no invasiveness issues associated with it. "It's a great plant," added Rayburn. "We know how to control it, it gives good biomass, and it grows on marginal land."
Read more about this research at http://phys.org/news/2012-06-prairie-cordgrass-highly-underrated.html.
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)