There is interest in new commercial cropping systems that can produce biomass for bio-energy and carbon storage. This European research project aims to determine the biomass potential of Virginia mallow and the value of growing timber trees at field edges for carbon capture.

At a glance

  • Dates36 months (2016 to 2019)
  • SponsorSponsored through the EU’s Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FACCE-JPI). The UK component is provided through Defra.
  • PartnersConsortium includes the University of Freiburg in Germany, the “3N Centre of Experts”, the Italian National Research Council (CNR), the Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA), and the West Pomeranian University of Technology Szczecin (WPUT)

Virginia mallow (Sida hermaphrodita) is a Northern American plant species that has shown potential as a biomass crop (for bioenergy and fibre products) in Poland, but it has not been widely tested in Western Europe. It can be harvested annually and it can reach heights of 3 m. Another perennial plant which is being investigated is Silphium perfoliatum

The first objective of the project is to examine the performance of Virginia mallow across contrasting sites in Europe. The second objective focuses on the potential of growing valuable timber trees (e.g. walnut and cherry) at the edges of arable fields. The final objective includes assessment of the carbon sequestration (where CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and stored) and the economics of these systems.

Research led to

In early 2017, Cranfield University established a field experiment in Bedfordshire including Sida hermaphrodita and Silphium perfoliatum.  Laura Cumplido-Marín has started her PhD studies on this topic.

Further information