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Germany experimenting with biomass for lucrative benefits for farmers

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Staff Writer | August 8, 2016
Research in Germany is trying to make farmers much more than just food and fibre producers. It's experimenting with multi-use crops that can be used for medicine, insulation and paper production.
Germany biomass
Farming   Multi-use crops that can be used for medicine
Thorsten Kraska from the University of Bonn in Germany calls the work to create plants that can be used in one way before being used in energy or heat production as "biomass 2.0".

"We wanted to have a cascading use of biomass plants. We can use a material in front that does not conflict with energetic uses behind."

In other words, all of the plants being experimented with at the University of Bonn's research farm can be harvested for one use, like medicine of material for insulation with the discarded material being used for biomass production.

One of the stars of the project is the extremely fast growing bamboo like plant miscanthus.

It is a low input plant that isn't fertilised or sprayed with pesticides but still yields 20 tonnes per hectare annually.

Dr Kraska said 20 tonnes of miscanthus being burned in a biomass plant was the equivalent of burning 7000 litres of oil for heating.

"Inside miscanthus you can do a lot of things. We are producing paper, we are producing insulation, you can use it as bedding material. We have found 30 different uses for miscanthus."