Miscanthus Quick Facts

Miscanthus x giganteus

Miscanthus is a perennial, rhizomatous grass, originating from Asia, which possesses the C4 photosynthetic pathway. The most common species is Miscanthus Giganteus which is a sterile triploid hybrid of M. sacchariflorus and M. sinensis.

Miscanthus Giganteus Quick Facts

  • The plant is sterile and thus produces no seed, therefore, it is not invasive
  • Produces up to 35 harvested tons per hectare at maturity
  • Moisture content at harvest of 10-20%
  • Highly efficient at carbon storage 5.2-8.2 tC/ha/yr
  • Low ash content & mineral content ≤ 2% — very clean burning
  • Up to 16 mm BTU/ton, or approximately 19 MJ kgˉ¹, on dry matter basis

More info about Miscanthus giganteus:

Natural sterile hybrid Miscanthus x giganteus represents a high valuable crop for the production of energy from lignocellulosic biomass. Although it can be used for the production of second-generation liquid biofuels, researched biomass is currently mostly used in the processes of direct combustion. Using biofuels in transportation, or biomass in power generation reduces CO2 emissions as the carbon is fixed by the plants from the atmosphere and saves the equivalent fossil fuel. Plant has one of the highest energy intensities per hectare of land in Europe.

Miscanthus is a large, perennial grass hybrid and thus exhibits greater photosynthetic efficiency and lower water use requirements than other kinds of plants. Compared to arable crops, Miscanthus has a very low agro-chemical requirement. As the site is only cultivated once, at establishment, reductions in soil disturbance and erosion can also be achieved compared with conventional arable crops. Also Miscanthus takes up as much carbon as is released when it is burnt so there is no net increase in CO¬2 into the atmosphere. Some researchers conclude that the highest greenhouse gas mitigation from bio-energy can be achieved by growing Miscanthus crop on existing fertile and degraded arable land and not on land with a currently undisturbed ecosystem. Growing perennial biomass crops results in increased carbon capture and storage, and thus contributes to an improved CO2 balance – also through a reduction of GHG emissions. This bears an opportunity for increased hard currency income for the Croatian state budget according to Kyoto-Protocol parameter. Moreover, research has shown that Miscanthus can enhance biodiversity for a range of wildlife including for certain reed nesting birds, earthworms, spiders and mammals compared with growing winter-sown cereals. Miscanthus provides cover for most of the year because, although the crop is harvested annually, it is harvested shortly before the following year’s growth begins. This cover can act as a wildlife corridor linking existing habitats such as crop margins, woodlands and hedgerows. A recent study showed there to be an immediate benefit to biodiversity due to providing an over winter site for birds, small mammal and invertebrates.

World industry is seeking new sources of energy. The need for plant fuel is increasing and one-day plant fuel could replace fossil energy sources such as coal, oil or natural gas. An energy plant must grow quickly, it cannot dry out the soil too much and it must be usable for various purposes. Miscanthus meets all of these conditions and growing the plant as a fuel is very energy efficient. Miscanthus has a net calorific value, on a dry basis, of 17 MJ/kg. The energy value of 20 t of dry plant would be equivalent to that of 8 t of coal. According to calculations made by German scientist, a farmer can get the amount of fuel corresponding to 8.000 litres of heating oil from one hectare of Miscanthus plantation each year.

BEECO’s project gives strong support for Croatia’s endeavour for energy independency, energy supply security and substitution of import fossil fuels. It facilitates the implementation of the EU 2020 sustainable energy and environmental goals, which Croatia, as EU member state, is binding for. Also project strongly secures both energy supply and long-term sustainability, and creates conditions to implement and develop countrywide the self-sufficient eco-village model, to consciously enhance and improve the environments in which we live.

There’s a sustainable future in Miscanthus – it does very well on marginal land, on difficult to establish, heavier soils and areas that are hard to travel on. As the crop matures the rhizome actually increases the ground’s stability, making it easier to travel over, come harvest time. Because it thrives on lower grade, marginal land, with little or no inputs required, Miscanthus offers a viable option to farmers looking to diversify. Most important, Miscanthus will not occupy land for economically profitable food production, which directly reduces food-biofuels competition.

For Miscanthus removal from the field a fully-mechanic method could be favoured. As a result plant will be removed from the soil precisely and field can be easily converse for re-cultivation. Removing crops for the production of biomass is not bad for soil carbon content.

Miscanthus is a high-energy culture because it makes efficient use of available nutrients, water and carbon in the soil and has low requirements for fertilization. It has powerful abilities translocation of minerals and nutrients from the stalks and leafs to the rhizomes after the vegetation, and re-translocation from rhizomes to above ground parts at the beginning of vegetation. Miscanthus is characterized by high efficiency of utilization of nutrients, particularly nitrogen, which significantly affects the overall economic balance during the cultivation. The content of nutrients in the rhizomes and root is changed very little over the years.

Phytoremediation is a method that use plants which can remove or stabilize pollutants in the environment. The aim of the polluted area remediation is to return ecosystems into original condition. Phytoremediation is a green technology used for a wide range of pollutants as well as on various lands, low costs and reduced environment impacts. Miscanthus is relatively new in this field but the results so far show their potential in heavy metal removal. According to the researches conducted in this field Miscanthus cultivation on those type of land is recommended especially in heavy metals phytoextraction, rhizofiltration, stabilization and accumulation.

Project gives strong opportunity for family farms and farm cooperatives to improve their place in the national economy. This energy prospect gives for rural communities’ ability to produce own biofuels and energy through local farmers or cooperatives supplying biomass to aggregated businesses for densifying and further sale or local energy utilization. It positively impacts farmers’ income and wealth creation and increases standard of living in rural communities. Weed control is essential during establishment, only in first year.

BEECO’s project gives strong contribution to Croatia rural development, as the perennial biomass crops will be grown and process locally, creating jobs and increasing business activities immediately in the areas. The project increases productivity, enhances competitiveness, improves infrastructure of local communities, stimulates regional trade and increases tax revenues in rural areas. Company will farm in rural Croatia and also will manufacture locally.

The market for energy crops (crops which are grown specifically to be harvested and burnt in power stations, combined heat and power (CHP) units or heating systems) is increasing. Selling Miscanthus on the market is easy and plant is used for many purposes. Using this cane it is possible to make high-quality insulation or roof as well as one type of plastic. There are already wheels, bumpers and rims made of this plant and it is also good as a floor cloth for horses, cattle and poultry and as a raw material for industrial use of any kind. Researchers from the University of Bonn have used this plant to produce lightweight concrete. By 2050 it has a potential to meet 12 percent of energy needs in the EU.

There’s a good financial case for growing Miscanthus, and it can help boost food production on farm. Miscanthus requires minimum inputs and typically delivers high annual yields (currently delivering 10-20 tonnes per hectare from well-established crops) and delivers consistent returns, offering farmers and landowner’s unrivalled financial security.

In light of volatile cereal prices, and the need to maximise returns from all available land, Miscanthus is a viable solution. The talk will explore how growing the long-term perennial crop provides a profitable income, with minimal inputs, meaning food crops can be better managed, and growers can ‘work smarter not harder’. Growing this perennial energy crop offers greater security of high annual net margin than almost any other crop, while reducing working capital and overhead costs.

If you have a question about any aspect of Miscanthus x Giganteus supply in Croatia, get in touch with the expert BEECO team.