Perennial Energy Crops
Perennial crops are crops that live for years and can be harvested many times before they die. Plants such as apples and alfalfa are perennials that are commercially grown and harvested, as are biofuel crops such as miscanthus and switchgrass. Perennial crops have been shown to reduce nutrient losses.
See this news release from the University of Illinois Extension about reductions in nitrogen loss from miscanthus and switchgrass fields.
The Agricultural Watershed Institute is partnering with the University of Illinois Extension on research linking perennial crops and better water quality.
The University of Iowa is searching for the right biomass feedstock to cofire with coal at its power plant, and miscanthus is one option a few early adopters are testing. Miscanthus also helps mitigate soil and other nutrients from water. “Planting dedicated energy crops is the single, most-effective measure you can take to help with nutrient runoff,” Milster says.