In the search for the perfect crop for biofuel production, Miscanthus has become the darling to many. But in an effort to not be charmed by its enormous potential for biomass production, researchers at the University of Illinois are taking a careful look at the pros and cons of its behavior in the field. A recent study analyzed water quantity and quality in plots of Miscanthus, switchgrass, corn, and soybeans and found that Miscanthus used substantially more water, but reduced the potential for nitrogen pollution to water bodies.
Switch grass behaves like Miscanthus early in the growing season, drying out the soil. It then goes into a reproductive mode and uses very little water in the late summer and fall.