Friday, December 7, 2012

Arundo donax bioenergy crop Invasive species

"Why Arundo donax is possibly the finest bioenergy crop available for a variety of uses:
Ø High energy content - 8,000-8,400 Btu per lb.
Ø High yield - 20-25 tons per acre
Ø Year round production - 2 harvests per field per year.
Ø Rapid Growth crowds out weeds – significant soil carbon sequestration.
Ø Low Fertilizer requirement- extensive perennial root system.
Ø Perennial – no annual tillage or planting.
Ø No Pesticides are necessary.
Ø No net CO2 emissions – Zero net carbon emissions to atmosphere.
Ø Provides habitat for wildlife.
Ø Prevents soil erosion.
Ø Can be grown on marginal lands in semi-arid conditions.
Ø C3 and C4 Photosynthetic pathway traits
Ø Constant energy ratio/conversion factorization.
The Question of “Invasiveness”
Although there has been a lot of attention given to so-called “invasiveness” of Arundo in the USA, particularly in California, it is quite easily controlled under conventional agricultural management. The “invasiveness” in California was a man-made phenomenon in which Arundo was planted along irrigation channels, rivers and around dams to control erosion of the banks by binding the soils. Fast moving flood waters and the seasonal runoff from such as the Sierra Nevadas have over time, washed away the containing river banks and moved plants down stream where they have lodged and rooted.
Studies have been undertaken to establish best management practices for the cultivation and termination of Arundo under commercial agricultural situations. Two diskings annually around field borders are all that is required to prevent spread of Arundo. In all planned projects,  a minimum of a 20 ft buffer zone around the perimeter of Arundo donax planted for commercial use . Arundo donax does not produce viable seed, has clumping rhizomes, and produces no runners such as with bamboo.

The most extensive studies of Perennial Grasses to determine their suitability as bioenergy crops were undertaken under the FAIR of the EU from 1997 to 2000. Their final report recommended Arundo donax as the most promising of all those grown in trial plots, harvested and then tested as the feedstock for a variety of commercial utilizations including biopower, biofuel & paper fiber as well as the added benefit of phytoremediation (the de-pollution of contaminated soils). At no stage of this most exhaustive program were there any instances of invasiveness and Arundo was stated as “environmentally friendly,” “soil improvements achieved,” “environmentally benign,” and “The champion of future bioenergy crops.”
South AustraliaArundo has been grown for bio-remediation purposes to clean up industrial effluent of contaminated areas and has also been tested and proved effective in eliminating salinity in soils that could then be used for agricultural activities."

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