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Spotlight on science: Growing potential Miscanthus markets

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To deliver scalable, robust markets and uses for Miscanthus, they need to be extensively tested. Not only do these end-uses need to benefit the environment, they need to be economically feasible and benefit society as a whole. This is why we’re involved with GRACE which stands for “GRowing Advanced industrial Crops on marginal lands for biorEfineries”, a ground-breaking project, identifying sustainable commercial uses for Miscanthus and hemp…

GRACE is a cross-European project that includes 22 different organisations, both in academia and industry, all working to identify commercial uses for Miscanthus and Hemp.

“It’s a radical project, where science meets sustainable commercial opportunities,” explains Jason Kam, Terravesta’s R&D manager.

“It covers plant physiologies and development all the way to end-products, and through this we are working closely with other innovative European partners developing fantastic opportunities to grow the Miscanthus bio-economy,” he says.

Jason explains that Terravesta’s role in GRACE has been significant. “We’ve been supplying planting materials in multiple locations in Europe (e.g. UK, Poland, Germany, Italy and Croatia etc). We have also provided commercial scaled planting material in the UK, allowing our study to be extended to commercial scale.

“Not only is Terravesta providing planting material, we also host field trials as well as directly contributing to data collection in our UK and Polish sites. This gives us an opportunity to study our product in cultivation in other European countries that have very different climates,” adds Jason.

GRACE in a nutshell

The GRACE project explores the potential of the non-food industrial crops Miscanthus and hemp as a source of biomass for the bio-economy. Both Miscanthus and hemp are relatively under-exploited, but offer an interesting business opportunity for farmers and industry. When cultivated on marginal, contaminated or unused/abandoned land, the impacts on food security can be minimised, and the potential introduction of pollutants into the food chain can be prevented.

GRACE will demonstrate and optimise the techno economic viability and environmental sustainability of ten promising Miscanthus and hemp biomass-based value chains using marginal, contaminated and unused land at an industry relevant scale.

The aim is to identify hemp varieties suitable for marginal lands and to have commercial Miscanthus cultivars available by the end of the project with several proven economically viable end uses creating a market pull for growth in the bio-economy.

To learn more about GRACE, visit the website.