Poland, Bytom test site
The field experiments are carried out under the MISCOMAR+ project is located in the Upper Silesia, Southern Poland. Farming has a long tradition in that industrial region. However intensive industry activities from the past affected seriously the quality of the soils. They are either already highly contaminated or contain elevated amounts of potentially toxic elements such as Cd, Pb, As or phytotoxic Zn. Production of energy crops such as miscanthus may be not only an alternative for a safe use of the contaminated arable land but an opportunity for the region.
Therefore MISCOMAR and MISCOMAR+ projects have proposed an alternative to the farmers: biomass production which could provide economic returns on otherwise under-utilised lands. However, the commercial and environmental viability of the alternative can only be determined when the quality and chemical composition of both the feed-stocks produced and changes to the soil itself are recognised. Bytom test site has provided the answer on the suitability of the biomass produced on heavy metal contaminated soils for energy production together with the understanding of the potential for soil remediation.
2020 - Sixth growing season
2019 - Fifth growing season
2018 - Visit at the Institute for Ecology of Industrial Areas test site
On the 27 of September 2018 at the Institute for Ecology of Industrial Areas scientists and practitioners discussed the possibilities of growing energy crops on soils contaminated with lead, cadmium and zinc and on post-industrial wastelands.
The selection of the appropriate species of energy plants allows achieving the assumed goals, such as: restoring the soil contaminated with heavy metals and improving the structure and quality of soil, as well as obtaining a high biomass yield with good parameters for processing for energy purposes. Our research confirm that Miscanthus cultivation could be safe and profitable option for marginal and contaminated lands.
2018 - Third growing season
Work carried out at the Bytom test site focused on the assessment of plant growth and biomass productivity in the third miscanthus growing season. Biomass production and heavy metal uptake were determined twice, at autumn and spring harvests. The main finding of the performed analyses was that seed-based hybrids after the third growing season showed biomass production comparable to that of Miscanthus x giganteus. It was also confirmed that seed-based hybrids were characterized by lower heavy metal uptake to aboveground parts than commercial Miscanthus x giganteus, showing phytostabilisation abilities and giving the opportunity for safe biomass production on contaminated soil. In November, together with colleagues from Aberystwyth University, soil cores were resampled and analysed, among other parameters, for changes in soil organic carbon, soil porosity and heavy metal concentration. Changes after three years of Miscanthus cultivation indicated an overall positive trend in decreasing bulk density values over time, which corresponded with observations of increased porosity, as well as increased soil organic carbon.
2017 - Second growing season
Work carried out at the Bytom test site focused on the assessment of plant growth and biomass productivity in the second growing season. Two Miscanthus seed-based hybrids which have not survived the first winter were replaced by new, more frost resistant ones.
Analysing plant physiological parameters measurements it was found, that the stomatal response to light of the new hybrids was at least twice as fast as that of Miscanthus x giganteus, a trait that is often associated with increased seasonal water use efficiency. Simplifying, it might be stated that more conservative water use by novel Miscanthus seed-based hybrids resulted in lower metal uptake.
The main finding of the performed analyses was the seed-based hybrids after second growing season showed biomass productivity comparable to the of Miscanthus x giganteus. It was also confirmed that seed-based hybrids were characterised by lower heavy metal uptake to aboveground parts than commercial Miscanthus x giganteus, showing phytostabilisation abilities and giving the opportunity for safe biomass production on contaminated soil. The collected biomass was analysed by the Hohenheim University for energy.
2016 - Establishment of test plots
On soil contaminated with heavy metals (Pb, Cd, Zn) four novel Miscanthus seed-based hybrids were planted along with the commercial standard Miscanthus x giganteus. They were planted in replicated blocks, three of each genotype. During the first growing season 2016/2017 plants growth and acclimatization to the heavy metal polluted soil were observed. At the end of the growing season all tested genotypes seemed to be well acclimatized, both to Polish climate and the contaminated environment.
Plant material was collected twice, at the end of the first growing season in autumn and early spring, before starting second growing season, to compare heavy metal uptake and others parameters.