Miscanthus Found to Thrive in Midwest


Renew Biomass Director of Agriculture, Eric Allphin, recently co-wrote an article based on an observational study done on Miscanthus to see how well it would perform in the Midwest [Missouri and Arkansas] environment. The study took place over a three-year period from 2012 to 2015. The authors of this article hypothesized that Miscanthus would; grow excellent across various areas of the Midwest; that the growing locationís previous land-use history would have the most significant impact on Miscanthus; and that there would be an increase of wildlife present.

To understand how Miscanthus would take to the Midwest, twenty-two fields were selected in Missouri and Arkansas with varying slopes, soils, and previous crop backgrounds. Testing was done on soil samples taken from the fields for; soil ph, organic matter, parent material, textural class, land capability class, drainage class, runoff potential and available water capacity. Later, plant count, shoots/plant, biomass yield, shoot height, and weed score was sampled. To find the amount of nutrient export and which ones were more prominent, samples of dried Miscanthus were ground and processed through different testing methods.

The results from the study confirmed that Miscanthus could thrive in the Midwest but performed better in some areas than others. Also, as hypothesized, the farmers over the fields did see an increase in wildlife after Miscanthus had been planted. When the Miscanthus was planted after a crop or pasture, on a depositional slope, in soil with plenty of water, it grew better than the other locations observed. Changes in the weather did not affect the amount of Miscanthus produced but did affect the speed of senescence from year to year. Weed pressure was less on fields that followed row crops rather than pasture.