Crop physiology and biomass production

In the coming years there will be an expected steep increase in demand for more biomass for direct bioenergy or biorefinery use. This research area aims at understanding the basic principles governing biomass production and the need for input and risk of emissions from the production. We also aim at understanding the causal relationships between biomass quality and the crop genotype, harvest time, climate and management. The objective is to be able to facilitate an agricultural production of high amounts and high quality biomass with minimal environmental impact.

A more practical focus is to develop the production methods of biomass crops, in particular perennial energy crops. We have key experience and competence in miscanthus, which has been investigated since 1982, and for which we have a unique genotype collection and long-term crop experiments.

New experiments have been established with willow, poplar and reed Canary grass. The long-term experience in conventional grass production for seed and fodder forms the basis for producing and improving these grasses also for bioenergy purposes.

Perennial crops are compared with annual crops in optimized rotations that seek to improve green crop cover over the season and maximize productivity. Our hypothesis is that we will be able to double biomass yield and halve environmental impacts compared to crop production of today.

In the collaborative project BIORESOURCE we aim to make this hypothesis a reality. In order to sustain food production we analyze protein contents of green biomass crops which can be utilized for food or fodder while the fibres can be utilized for bioenergy or materials.

Marginal lands are of special interest for biomass delivery in order to minimize competition with food production. Projects are ongoing on organic soils that are prone to flooding and have a critical GHG balance. Here, both crop production and harvest of natural vegetation are investigated with respect to biomass yield, and GHG and nutrient balances. Drought and salt prone conditions will also be investigated.