Turning marginal farmlands into a win for farmers and ecosystems

phys.org | 11/5/2018 | Staff
Click For Photo: https://3c1703fe8d.site.internapcdn.net/newman/gfx/news/2018/turningmargi.jpg

Concepts of integrated landscape management for bioenegy crops in an agricultural setting. Source: Cacho et al. 2017. Credit: Cacho et al. 2017.

Many farms have areas where the ground either floods or does not retain enough water or fertilizer for crops to thrive. Such marginal lands could become useful and potentially profitable if they are planted with perennial bioenergy crops such as shrub willow and switchgrass, report researchers this week at the annual meeting of The Geological Society of America in Indianapolis.

Project - Researchers - Argonne - National - Laboratory

In a project that's been underway since 2011, researchers at Argonne National Laboratory have been studying how shrub willow and switchgrass in sandier, easily dried-out patches of land can not only control erosion, but also suck up excess fertilizer chemicals that could otherwise contaminate surface water and groundwater. Excess fertilizer nutrients can lead to a host of downstream problems including toxic algal blooms, increased costs for water treatment facilities, and the growth of the hypoxic "dead" zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

"The focus is on improving water quality," said John Quinn, a researcher at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois. But along the way they have found that shrub willow and grasses have other potential benefits as well, including being a source of biomass for biofuel, a resource for pollinators and other wildlife, and by providing other ecosystem services.

Study - Team - Cristina - Negri - Areas

To conduct their study, the team, led by Cristina Negri, located marginal areas on their 6.5-hectare research farmland in east-central Illinois, using corn yield maps, GIS, and publicly available data on soil and topography to identify low productivity, high nitrate-leaching, and erosion-prone areas, explained Jules Cacho, also of Argonne National Laboratory.

They planted shrub willow as a bioenergy crop in marginal areas and...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
Wake Up To Breaking News!
Governemnt sponsored segratation of America, one household at a time.
Sign In or Register to comment.

Welcome to Long Room!

Where The World Finds Its News!