Biomass crops benefit marginal soils
October 11, 2012, Columbia, MS – Bioenergy crops can be a good match for areas of fields that have lost productivity.
Crops such as switchgrass and miscanthus can help soil, improve water quality and provide alternative revenue, says Newell Kitchen, a soil scientist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service and adjunct professor at the University of Missouri.
“It really goes back to yield mapping,” Kitchen told Agriculture.com . “Farmers began installing yield monitors on combines in the 1990s and with that was a much greater awareness and appreciation of productivity differences within fields.”
Kitchen has been working with switchgrass for about five years and found that even when there is a lack of topsoil it is possible to grow a healthy switchgrass crop that will produce 5 to 7 tons per acre per year. Miscanthus can produce from 7 to 15 tons per acre.
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