SidaTim Conference: the possibility of using Sida hermaphrodita in the agro-forest system

Strengthening of organic farming in Europe, cultivation of biomass for bioenergy production, possibilities of cultivating perennial crops on poor soils and soils contaminated with heavy metals, innovative approaches to agricultural management - these are the key topics addressed during the international scientific conference: Novel and Sustainable Pathways of Biomass Production, which was held on 19-20 September 2018 in Szczecin-Kobylanka.

The conference was organised as part of the research project SidaTim - Novel Pathways of Biomass Production: Assessing the Potential of Sida Hermaphrodita and Valuable Timber Trees, carried out by scientists from Austria, Germany, Poland, Italy and Great Britain. SidaTim Project Coordinator – Dr. Michael Nahm from the University of Albrecht and Ludwik in Freiburg pointed out that the conducted research referred to the agglomeration concept, (agro-forestry system) and would enable the assessment of the economic and ecological potential of cultivation of Sida hermaphrodita in combination with valuable species of trees. Agro-forestry practices can have a positive impact on the environment and crop yields. Windbreak planting favourably affects the microclimate, reducing water evaporation and soil contamination.

During the conference the results of research on many aspects of cultivation and application of Virginia mallow were presented, from the production of seeds and seedlings, through cultivation and agrotechnology, to ensuring the appropriate quality of biomass in terms of its processing into energy. The research also took into account the problems resulting from the changing climatic conditions and integration with the cultivation of perennial woody plants.

IETU’s employees - Dr. Marta Pogrzeba and Dr. Jacek Krzyżak presented the possibilities of using Sida hermaphrodita and Miscanthus for cultivation on marginal soils, among others on soils of poor quality and contaminated with heavy metals, based on research carried out as part of the MISCOMAR project and Phyto2Energy. The subject of phytoremediation and the presented research results met with great interest of the conference participants. See abstracts of papers: LINK

All studies presented in Szczecin address current problems that occur on the biomass market in Poland and in other European Union countries. In Szczecin, we had the opportunity to discuss them with scientists from leading European research centres. I am very pleased that the results of our research concerning the possibility of growing new Miscanthus genotypes on soils contaminated with lead, cadmium and zinc, carried out under the MISCOMAR project met with such great interest - says Dr. Marta Pogrzeba.

The real asset of this conference was also the opportunity to exchange experiences with planters of energy plants from Poland and Germany and agricultural advisory specialists. The conference participants took part in a trip to the experimental plots of energy plants run by the West Pomeranian University of Technology in Lipnik near Stargard Szczeciński.

We have been shown model experimental plantations of e.g., Sida hermaphrodita, Silphium perfoliatum L., Miscanthus giganteous, Spartina pectinata, Phalaris arundinacea L., Agropyron elongatum and Salix L. Research carried out there focuses mainly on doses of fertilisation, dates of sowing and sowing density. Energy plants are valuable because they tolerate weak and less fertile soils that have been set aside so far, and even soils contaminated with heavy metals. Therefore, in their cultivation, the selection of technologies is of particular importance in order to ensure the appropriate quantity and quality of biomass for the production of heat and electricity - adds Dr. Jacek Krzyżak.

We congratulate the conference organisers from the West Pomeranian University of Technology, headed by Dr. Marek Bury from the Department of Agronomy and the implementers of the SidaTim project on the well-prepared conference at a very high scientific level.

Participation in this conference allowed us to establish new scientific contacts, which - I hope - will soon result in a joint research project - says Dr. M. Pogrzeba.