Agronomic and economic viability of Miscanthus x giganteus as a novel biofuel in the Maryland climate
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Our study examined the effects of land quality and water-absorbent polymer on the growth of Miscanthus x giganteus. Our goal was to help utilize previously uncultivable land efficiently and meet U.S. energy goals. Currently, most U.S. biofuel is produced from corn, which requires arable land for growth and therefore significantly disrupts the production of food crops. We predicted that M. x giganteus would be able to thrive on marginal land, unlike corn, with the aid of a water-absorbing polymer. After growing M. x giganteus on both arable and marginal land, with and without the application of a polymer, we found that our crop grew better on the arable land. We also found that the presence of the water-absorbing polymer in the soil did not affect the growth of M. x giganteus. Finally, an economic cost-benefit analysis showed that growing M. x giganteus would not be a viable commercial enterprise, without the use of a commercial fertilizer and based on existing revenue and expense scenarios.