When you think about farmlands, what is that you picture? Maybe a land full of crops! Right ? But, due to the new research, the entire picture has changed. Generally, the farmers plant perennial crops such as switchgrass or willow along with the annual crops to improve soil fertility, water absorption property, and wildlife habitat improvement. The researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory and other institutes have taken up a project funded by Bioenergy Technologies Office which looks into using these plants for economic as well as environment benefit and also a generation of bioenergy.
The crop willow once dominated the furniture industry and wicker basket, but has declined tremendously since the 1930s. However, the recent research boosts the use of bioenergy crops along with the conventional crops and thus revitalizes the woody crop market again.
The crop grows up to 10 feet making it a highly sustainable bioenergy crop. It requires low maintenance, is high yielding, and can be grown on the marginal or unutilized lands proving it to be a boon for the food crops rather than a bane. These characteristics make it an extra advantage for the environment or ecosystem conservation. Its dense growth helps the birds and animals built a habitat for themselves. The plants have a dense root system that reduces soil erosion, increases soil fertility, prevents pollutants and sediments from entering groundwater, and improve water quality. The researchers at ANL have found that it can help reduce the nitrate pollution generated in the environment. Nitrogen is a must for the growth and development of life but its excess can be hazardous. The research team has thus designed a landscape principle by integrating bioenergy in the farmlands for conserving the ecosystem and food production maintenance.