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Energy crop in trials to restore flood plain soils

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Farmers looking for a crop to grow on flood-prone land, and help improve soils after flooding, can also provide fuel for biomass by growing miscanthus according to new trials.

These have shown that the crop survives in water-logged land and its effect on the soil after flooding. The trials are being run by the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University and Terravesta and are being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

“We know miscanthus has the ability to tolerate flooding when it’s mature, but there’s a gap in the data about its tolerance during its establishment stage, and this is during the first two years of growth,” said plant physiologist Dr Sarah Purdy. “What’s really exciting about these trials is that we’re also going to analyse the health of the soil, following the floods, when compared to other land-uses.”

The trials will see the biomass crop, miscanthus, grown on commercial flood-prone sites, on plot-scale sites and in controlled environments under glass, to monitor how the crop copes with prolonged flooding. They will also be able to establish whether the crop can increase soil stability.

Photo Credit: Pinstone Communications

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