Long-term Assessment of Miscanthus Productivity and Sustainability (LAMPS) Project (LAMPS Factsheet).
LAMPS will use a field-based approach to address the challenges facing Miscanthus establishment and production. The LAMPS experiment will consist of fields large enough to accommodate commercially available equipment similar to what Miscanthus producers will use. Further, we will use commercial fertilizer and fertilizing equipment to develop best management practices for maintaining productive Miscanthus stands. Spring 2017 Update/ December 2016 Update/December 2015 Update/ September 2015 Update/ June 2015 Update
The University of Iowa Biomass Power Plant Partnership.
The Heaton Lab is working closely with the University of Iowa Biomass Fuel Project and leads supporting ISU research at LAMPS (see above). The U of I aims to use 40% renewable energy by the year 2020, in large part by blending coal with renewable fuels including Miscanthus x giganteus, wood chips, and oat hulls to produce heat and electricity for the campus. Miscanthus x giganteus is expected to provide 25% of the U of I Power Plants bioenergy feedstock. To produce this feedstock, the U of I has partnered with AGgrow Tech to contract growers around Iowa City to plant 2,500 acres of Miscanthus x giganteus. In 2015, 350 acres were planted.
U of I Using More Sustainable Energy. Source: CBS news.
ISU professor turning perennial grass into electricity Des Moines Register.
Bottom up: using subfield profitability to achieve sustainability goals.
Postdoc Elke Brandes is leading this project that harnesses economic interest to target unprofitable areas within Iowa fields for management change to low-input perennial crops. We assume that farmers are more likely to consider a management change on areas with the opportunity mitigate profit losses, and these same areas often show highest environmental risks, as well. With a spatially explicit profitability analysis as the baseline, we ask how the integration of perennial crops and cover (e.g., switchgrass or prairie) on areas of fields that lose money with corn and soybeans, can increase the sustainability of Iowa’s agricultural practices. Specifically, we are focusing on provisioning and regulating ecosystem services that are pivotal to a functioning agroecosystem: profitability, water quality and diversity. In an interdisciplinary team of agronomists, landscape ecologists and economists, we use publicly available data to estimate yields, land costs and crop budgets. The mechanistic soil model DNDC helps us understand management-driven changes in biogeochemical processes that lead to nutrient leaching.