The hardy perennial grass Miscanthus X Giganteus could be more than two and a half times more productive than corn or switchgrass in producing ethanol, according to research at the University of Illinois. In addition to being more productive, Miscanthus does not need to be planted every year like corn. It also thrives in poor soil conditions and was found to leaf out earlier than corn.
With the US looking to replace 20% of gasoline with ethanol, planting Miscanthus would only take up 9.3% of food production cropland to grow, compared to 25% being required to grow corn or switchgrass to produce equal amounts of ethanol, according to Popular Science.
However, Popular Science warns, “Miscanthus science is young, so scientists are hopeful that the plant’s yields will eventually be even higher, and that it might be possible to grow this distant cousin of switchgrass on non-croplands.”
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