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From little seeds large elephants might grow.

WELSH scientists hope to overcome a major obstacle in the adoption of miscanthus - commonly known elephant grass - as an energy crop.

UK demand for biomass for electricity generation currently exceeds 5m tonnes-a-year and miscanthus, which can grow up to three metres high in a year, is seen as the ideal feedstock for Britian's emerging bio-based economy.

Currently 75% of the UK's biomass is imported as the traditional method for cultivating miscanthus - by planting rhizomes dug up from other miscanthus plants - limits how much can be planted annually.

Now IBERS researchers from Aberystwyth University hope to develop the technology required to plant the energy crop from seed.

This should enable miscanthus cropping areas to be upscaled around 200 times faster.

IBERS project leader Dr John Clifton Brown said: "The overall goal is to develop new systems for miscanthus-based agriculture that enable transition of today's niche crop into a large scale biomass supply system."

The PS1.8m project, Miscanthus UpScaling Technology (MUST), will develop methods to produce miscanthus seed at four trial sites in the UK.

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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:Oct 1, 2015
Words:180
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