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Miscanthus: source of woody biomass

ABO ANALYSES AND TECHNIQUES

Miscanthus x giganteus is a perennial grass that, with its high yield potential, is ideal for use as a feedstock for woody biomass. Like maize, Miscanthus is a C4 plant; the grass is capable of efficiently converting sunlight into biomass at high temperatures and with a minimum of water. The annual harvest is done in the spring with a maize shredder. The annual dry matter yield is then 12-18 tonnes/ha.

BROADENING THE GENETIC DIVERSITY

The most commonly used clone is a sterile clone and is multiplied using rhizomes. However, this narrow genetic base entails a potential risk of disease resistance. Expanding the genetic diversity in this crop is therefore a necessity and also offers opportunities for broadening the valorisation and expansion of the crop region. Within the framework of the European research programme OPTIMISC, ILVO evaluated 100 different Miscanthus genotypes for cold tolerance and biomass quality.

WIDENING VALORISATION OF MISCANTHUS

The first application of Miscanthus biomass is in the calorific valorization. However, the biomass lends itself to more high-grade applications that are already being introduced, such as processing into paper for cardboard, mulch, stable litter, etc. ILVO is also exploring applications of miscanthus in the potting soil industry (I-LoVe-T project), in fibre boards, as green chemicals and reinforced plastics (e.g. in the OPTIMISC project).

More information: hilde.muylle@ilvo.vlaanderen.be, peter.lootens@ilvo.vlaanderen.be, bart.vandecasteele@ilvo.vlaanderen.be

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