Strategic Cultivation of Prairie Grass Increases Biofuel Production

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The need for biofuels is gaining impetus as discussions over global warming and climate change gain impetus across the world. While there are several techniques available to produce biofuel, none have proven as efficient. Reason? Plant-based biofuels are made out of food crops. Thus, they take away the share of food from the poor.

Therefore, to prevent loss of agriculture produce and at the same time produce sufficient biomass for biofuel production, scientists identify a strategy. David Tilman, a professor of ecology at Bren School of Environmental Science & Management talks about his latest study in Nature Sustainability.

Moderate Quantities of Fertilizers do the Magic  

Prairie grass is a type of perennial grass that has the potential to store large amounts of carbon inside earth. In order to identify the optimum conditions for cultivation, researchers took 32 native species (U.S.). Scientists grew the crop on 36 plots over a span of 10 years. The land was infertile, and to understand the right quantum of fertilizers and irrigation, scientists varied these parameters.

As a result, the plots with calculated amount of fertilizers and irrigation provided the highest yield. On the other hand, those with high amounts of fertilizers gave 30% less yield. Thus, scientists state that optimum amounts of fertilizers and irrigation.

However, the yield is marginally lower than that of corn produce. But, scientists state farmers grow corn on infertile lands with higher amounts of nitrogen fertilizers. It also gives higher greenhouse gas savings. Further, it also helps in restring wildlife. These factors give it an edge over the traditional corn ethanol.

Furthermore, scientists claim that deeper research could help identify tailor-made conditions to increase the yield of biomass and greenhouse gas savings.

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