University Of Iowa Is Planting Giant Miscanthus

University Of Iowa Is Planting Giant Miscanthus

Learn about this biomass energy crop and possibly growing it by attending a field day May 7 near Iowa City.

ENERGY CROP: This photo shows Giant Miscanthus (Miscanthus giganteus) growing on the Iowa State University research farm. This perennial grass takes three years to mature, lasts 20 to 30 years, and yields about 10 tons of biomass per acre per year.

Interested farmers and the general public can find out more about the agronomics and economics of growing Giant Miscanthus in Iowa for biomass production at a planting field day scheduled for May 7 near Iowa City. Miscanthus is a biomass crop produced for energy-generating purposes. A 13-acre pilot field of Giant Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus clone IL) will be planted Wednesday, May 7 at a field is just outside of Iowa City (south on Highway 1, 0.5 miles from Menards). All interested growers and the general public are invited to attend. The best time to be there is anytime between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Representatives from the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and Repreve Renewables, the company planting the field, will be on-hand to answer questions about the UI Biomass Fuel Project and other dedicated energy crops. In 2013, the UI planted a 16-acre pilot Miscanthus field in Muscatine County. The UI has contracted with Repreve Renewables to supply the rhizomes and plant the 2014 field, which, along with the 2013 field, will used to better understand the possibilities for growing Miscanthus in southeast Iowa, as well as to demonstrate the planting and harvesting techniques to potential growers. The University of Iowa is planning to plant an additional 2,500 acres of Miscanthus by 2016 to produce up to 25,000 tons per year of biomass fuel.

Miscanthus is large, warm season grass produced for energy
Miscanthus is large, warm-season, perennial grass used for energy, bedding and building material. It is one of a portfolio of dedicated energy crops suitable for Iowa, and can produce large amounts of renewable energy while providing all the environmental benefits associated with perennial grasses. The crop is sterile and must be planted with rhizomes or small plants (called 'plugs').

As part of the Biomass Fuel Project, Iowa State University is collaborating closely with the University of Iowa to develop cropping systems and management for the Biomass Fuel Project. To learn more about Miscanthus, visit ISU biomass specialist Dr. Emily Heaton's webpage to find YouTube videos and read the ISU Extension and Outreach factsheets you can download from the site, or contact Emily at [email protected].

University of Iowa Biomass Fuel Project has big goal
The UI has a sustainability goal to procure 40% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Biomass is co-fired (mixed) with coal and burned in boilers, reducing the university's fossil fuel usage. Biomass from dedicated energy crops such as miscanthus or switchgrass, timber stand improvement projects, opportunity wood (storm damage, emerald ash borer, etc.), and organic industrial byproducts (oat hulls, paper sludge, etc.) are being developed as part of the renewable fuel portfolio. You can find more information online.

Emily Heaton is an assistant professor with responsibilities in biomass crop production. She can be reached at [email protected] or 515-294-1310.

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