Elephant Grass Has Potential as Biofuel Crop in Southern States
by Holly Jessen (Ethanol Producer Magazine) A drought tolerant grass known as elephant grass or napiergrass that is fed to cattle in the tropics is being studied as a possible cellulosic ethanol feedstock in southern states, with encouraging results.
The research is ongoing as part of a search for alternative biofuel feedstocks under way by two USDA agencies, the Agricultural Research Service and Forest Service Research and Development, the USDA said in a news release. William Anderson, a research geneticist at the ARS Crop Genetics and Breeding Research Unit in Tifton, Ga., believes napiergrass has potential as a biomass crop in areas where the plant survives winters but there is a killing frost, meaning the plant doesn’t flower. “[That] is a positive in that it will not set seed that could cause invasiveness in many areas of the southeast,” Anderson told Ethanol Producer Magazine, adding that the plant isn’t as cold tolerant as switchgrass but has survived as far north as Athens, Ga. READ MORE and MORE (USDA ARS)