Enhanced vegetative propagation combined with new variety introductions to expand energy crop production
The first project objective is to increase the number of energy grass varieties that are available and increase yield. The majority of the UK energy grass crops are planted from one variety. The project will test varieties from existing global breeding projects in the UK. This reduces the time to 3 years to bring new variety options to market in the UK. Over 40 new candidate energy crop varieties will be evaluated, with the aim to increase yield and provide between 5 to 10 new variety options for UK growers.
The second is in agronomic improvements, these can begin as early as when crops are planted. Many high biomass energy crops are vegetatively propagated, they do not produce seeds. New Energy Farms (NEF) have developed patented technology and these will be evaluated on the new energy crops to identify cheaper and easier ways of multiplying and planting energy crops.
The combination of new, higher yielding varieties and improved methods of establishing new plantings of energy crops will encourage more energy crop planting. Higher yielding varieties, presented as easy to plant propagules, will increase biomass production.
Finally land which is border line for the economic production of food crops is the ideal land for energy crops. This project goes beyond the target of low-quality arable land and explores phytoremediation, producing biomass on metal contaminated land (spoil land) and degraded wetlands, a source of large GHG emissions.
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