Perennial grasses for energy and conservation: Evaluating some ecological agricultural, and economic issues
Perennial grasses for energy and conservation: Evaluating some ecological agricultural, and economic issues Perennial prairie grasses offer many advantages to the developing biofuels industry. High yielding varieties of native prairie grasses such as switchgrass, which combine lower levels of nutrient demand, diverse geographical growing range, high net energy yields and high soil and water conservation potential indicate that these grasses could and should supplement annual row crops such as corn in developing alternative fuels markets. Favorable net energy returns, increased soil erosion prevention, and a geographically diverse land base that can incorporate energy grasses into conventional farm practices will provide direct benefits to local and regional farm economies and lead to accelerated commercialization of conversion technologies. Displacement of row crops with perennial grasses will have major agricultural, economic, sociologic and cross-market implications. Thus, perennial grass production for biofuels offers significant economic advantages to a national energy strategy which considers both agricultural and environmental issues.
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