Switchgrass may unlock the future of biofuel

If you live east of the Rocky Mountains, you've probably encountered switchgrass, perhaps without even realizing it. A hardy perennial, the roadside and prairie grass is as ubiquitous as it is unassuming.

You may get to know it better soon, though. Switchgrass has been lauded as a promising source of biofuels with multiple advantages over current favored options, including corn. Genetically modifying switchgrass could boost crop yields and its commercial viability.

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NOAA Global Analysis - Annual 2016

“With the contribution of eight consecutive high monthly temperature records set from January to August, and the remainder of the months ranking among their five warmest, 2016 became the warmest year in NOAA's 137-year series. Remarkably, this is the third consecutive year a new global annual temperature record has been set. The average global temperature across land and ocean surface areas for 2016 was 0.94°C (1.69°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F), surpassing the previous record warmth of 2015 by 0.04°C (0.07°F). The global temperatures in 2016 were majorly influenced by strong El Niño conditions that prevailed at the beginning of the year.”

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Is Switchgrass the Answer?

"Erosion is a major problem on many farms – and one with a cascading effect. Not only does it deplete the farm of a valuable resource, it also creates downstream problems due to nutrient runoff. A new study from the University of Missouri shows that switchgrass could be a good option for curbing the negative effects of erosion, and may even prove to bring positive economic returns as a biofuel crop."

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