Miscanthus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The activities leading to these results have received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement nr.  289159.

 

Though the definition of marginal land as well as the magnitude of arable marginal land is a subject of controversial discussion, it is clear, that non food crops become more attractive if they can be grown on land, where the cultivation of food plants is hardly feasible.
Extending miscanthus cultivation to marginal land that is is characterised by harsh conditions such as coldness, salinity, drought, and/or poor soils therefore is a big challenge. According to the European Commission Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, salinisation and sodification are among the major degradation processes endangering the potential use of European soils and there are an estimated 20.7 million ha of sodic and saline soils available in the EU, Ukraine and Russia. Especially in Mediterranean countries - hence Turkey is an important project partner - and coastal areas, salinity sometimes reaches a dimension that exceeds more than 50% of an area. Moreover the salinity problem tends to widen as irrigated areas are expected to further increase.
In China, miscanthus genotypes that can grow under saline conditions have been identified - by the Chinese partner from Dongying Agricultural Science Research Institute who is involved in this project. Cropping of these salinity-tolerant miscanthus genotypes offers the possibility of turning marginal agriculture into added-value agriculture.

Also other features of miscanthus indicate its potential for marginal conditions (be it economical or eco-physical). Miscanthus cropping systems have proved to be highly sustainable because fertilizer and pesticide inputs are reduced, biodiversity can be improved in comparison to cereal monocropping, Carbon-sequestration is increased, GHG emissions can be reduced and high energy efficient miscanthus can be grown moderately fertile and on poor soils.

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