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GCB Bioenergy

Cover image for Vol. 10 Issue 1

Edited By: Steve Long

Impact Factor: 4.655

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2016: 2/83 (Agronomy); 18/92 (Energy & Fuels)

Online ISSN: 1757-1707

Associated Title(s): Global Change Biology

The Potential of Miscanthus to Mitigate Global Warming


The Potential of Miscanthus to Mitigate Global Warming

The demand for bioenergy is increasing due to rising energy needs in conjunction with and the desire for both an economically and environmentally sustainable energy supply. Ideal crops used to produce bioenergy have the potential to mitigate elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide levels as well as minimize nitrous oxide and methane emissions.

Species in the Miscanthus genus are candidates for bioenergy production due to their high biomass yield and potential to reduce greenhouse gasses. Miscanthus is a perennial grass that only requires initial cultivation and planting leaving the soil relatively undisturbed throughout continued years of growth, which allows carbon to naturally accumulate from leaf litter and root turnover. The low nutrient requirement of Miscanthus allows greenhouse emissions associated with fertilizers to be minimal.

Toma and coauthors investigate a M. sinensis-dominated grassland that was naturally established around 1972 in Japan. Most Miscanthus studies to date have been conducted on relative short-term (<16 years) research plots. Because Miscanthus can be harvested for up to 25 years, it is important to understand the long-term benefits. The use of natural populations allows the slower processes to be considered today.

The authors found that Miscanthus may help mitigate global warming by accumulating carbon and methane; factors that are important in calculating the potential of global warming. Nitrous oxide emissions were positive, but lower than from other grasslands and bioenergy crops that require fertilizer.

Toma Y, Fernandez F, Sato S, Izumi M, Hatano R, Yamada T, Nishiwaki A, Bollero G, Stewart R (2011) Carbon budget and methane and nitrous oxide emissions over the growing season in a Miscanthus sinensis grassland in Tomakomai, Hokkaido, Japan. GCB Bioenergy, 3-2, 116-134. Read this paper.

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