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Keep an Eye on Energy Crop Development

If you’re thinking about planting dedicated energy crops at some point in the future, I’d suggest keeping an eye on Ceres, Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA. Ceres launched the first multi-crop energy seed brand, Blade Energy Crops (www.bladeenergy.com), last year and is currently marketing switchgrass and high-biomass sorghum varieties as feedstocks for biofuels and biopower.

Ceres announced this week that it plans to increase biomass yields of several energy grasses (including switchgrass, sorghum and miscanthus) by as much as 40% in coming years while also decreasing the use of inputs, including nitrogen fertilizer. The U.S Department of Energy has awarded Ceres a $5 million grant to develop these grasses.

“Low-input traits developed through modern genetics can provide wide-reaching benefits to the energy and agricultural sectors as well as the environment, just the type of transformational impact energy officials are looking for,” says Richard Flavell, Ceres chief scientific officer.

Ceres estimates that its traits alone could help displace 1.3 billion barrels of oil and 58 million tons of coal over a 10-year period.

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