With droughts, floods and fires as natural disasters that heavily influence and, in some cases even damage energy sources; people are looking to solar, wind and biofuel power to replace traditional ones. Fossil fuel will run out at one point and the research of other, better alternatives is welcome.
One of the major hurdles that scientist have to go through when trying to find plants that would be best suited to become biofuel is recalcitrance. What is recalcitrance? This term refers to how plant cell walls naturally reject deconstruction. This stops scientists from having a form of biofuel that is both easily available and comes at a good price.
How to fix this
Scientists decided to try and change lignin. Some of you may ask yourselves what is lignin. Well, lignin is the polymer that is responsible for recalcitrance. The question that they asked their selves was if this change could negatively impact the soil on which the crops will grow. However, field studies done by these scientists found out that switchgrass did not have any kind of negative effects on the soil during the period that they tested it. They tested this for crops that were there for short periods of time, between two and five years.
Who did these studies and what were their conclusions
This study was done by a group of scientists at the BioEnergy Science Center. They went ahead and genetically modified the lignin that we talked about previously and found out that the soil was not affected at all by this new genetic manipulation. Yes, it showed some season changes between the normal crops and the altered ones but that does not raise concerns. This study could mean that we have finally found a sustainable source of biofuel but more studies on this finding will be needed.
Erin VanDyke lives on her family farm and has more than 35 years of hands-on experience with the use of livestock guard dogs for predator control. On their farm, Jan and her family use corgis as herding dogs and have raised Shetland sheep, Fainting goats, Morgan and Trakehner horses, and historic breeds of chickens and turkeys. Erin is also an active beekeeper.