Switchgrass is a common source for the production of lignin, which can then be turned into fuel, among other things.
The fact that it is a limitlessly renewable source of petrochemicals makes it a boon for industries as diverse as perfume production, biodegradable plastics, even medical uses.
As it turns out, it has other benefits as well, including to nature itself.
Researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory recently conducted a study that found that not only did switching to switchgrass prove profitable for Midwest farmers, it also helped stem land loss and saw an 8 percent increase in the biodiversity of bird species in the area.
Jasmine Kreig, a graduate research assistant in the UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute’s
Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education, helped develop the models used in the study.
That study, “Growing grasses in unprofitable areas of US Midwest croplands could increase species richness,” can be read in Biological Conservation.