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Developing Miscanthus seed plug establishment protocols with mulch film for commercial upscaling

Ashman, C, Awty-Carroll, D, Mos, M, Kam, J, Guerrini, S, Calder, S and Clifton-Brown, J (2023) Developing Miscanthus seed plug establishment protocols with mulch film for commercial upscaling. GCB Bioenergy, 15 (6). pp. 746-764. ISSN 1757-1693

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High-yielding crops with C4 photosynthesis arising in tropical climates are being bred for, and increasingly grown in, temperate climates. Miscanthus, a C4 from Eastern Asia is a leading perennial biomass crop, but commercial deployment is limited by low temperatures in Northern Europe, low clonal multiplication rates and slow establishment rates requiring up to 4 years to reach mature yields. While new seeded hybrids have multiplication rates >2000, direct field sown seed has proven impractical. Protocols for safe establishment of seeded hybrids require that seedlings are raised in the glasshouse in compost filled modules (also known as ‘plugs’) which are transplanted into the field in springtime. To protect seedlings from damage from late frosts, drought and grazing and to increase temperature stimulating growth rates, plug plants were covered with oxo-degradable plastic mulch film designed for maize. At two sites in the UK, this mulch film significantly reduced plant losses at transplanting and overwintering, increased stem heights and shoot counts, and reduced the time to mature yield from 4 to 3 years (p < 0.01). However, the breakdown products of oxo-degradable mulch films contribute to microplastics in the soil. Therefore, further mulch film experiments were conducted with bio-derived plastics which are bio-degradable in soil at extruded thicknesses of 10, 18 and 30 microns. The 10 micron film combined sufficient strength for machine laying and worked as well as oxo-degradable film on de-risking establishment. Halving the mulch film widths covering 1 row rather than 2 reduced the amount of plastic by 25%. Commercial plug-to-field protocols are built on results from the plot experiments and field-scale plantings over multiple years and locations and are ready for future upscaling of biomass production from seed-based Miscanthus hybrids.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1001 Agricultural Biotechnology
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Wiley
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 18 May 2023 11:21
Last Modified: 18 May 2023 11:30
DOI or ID number: 10.1111/gcbb.13044
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/19525
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