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Serving: IA

Get the Basics On Biomass Crops

ISU has a series of fact sheets to explain what you want to know about biomass crops.

Iowa State University has published the first two entries in a series of fact sheets on biomass crops. The publications on switchgrass and miscanthus provide an overview of the crops' soil and site adaptation, life cycle and growth, fertility, yield, harvest considerations and pest and disease management.

"Switchgrass is currently used as a forage crop or as ground cover to control erosion," says Lance Gibson, professor of agronomy and lead author of the fact sheets. "But it can also be burned to generate electricity or fermented into biofuel."

Miscanthus, however, is a crop that isn't as well known in Iowa. Miscanthus biomass research in the United States is in its early stages, but has received widespread attention in Europe where it is used for combustion in power plants," Gibson says. "We also are looking into its potential for conversion to ethanol."

The publications are available on the Web at and at ISU Extension offices. ISU agronomy faculty wrote the publications and plan to prepare additional fact sheets on other biomass crops.

Switchgrass and miscanthus field trials are underway at ISU Research and Demonstration Farms in Iowa. For more information contact Ken Moore, agronomy professor, 515-294-5482,

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