– by Jonathan Baker, February 22, High Plains Public Radio
The High Plains isn’t ideal for growing the new wave of biofuel crops, according to eurekalert.com. That’s because precipitation on the plains is less frequent and predictable than in other areas of the US, like the Midwest.
The research sought to identify the regions of the country where biofuel crops could be grown while minimizing effects on water quantity and quality. Corn is currently the dominant crop used in biofuel production. But bioenergy grasses, such as Miscanthus, have been found to be more ecofriendly than corn. These grasses lose less nitrogen due to rain and irrigation than corn. Nitrogen is an important nutrient for crops. But it often washes away into rivers, where it’s detrimental to aquatic ecosystems.
That means grasses may be the wave of the future for biomass crops. But biomass grasses grow best in areas like Kentucky and Tennessee, and the Northern Atlantic regions.