Welcome to the MISCOMAR project!

Our project: Miscanthus biomass options for contaminated and marginal land: quality, quantity and soil interactions - MISCOMAR is a joint initiative of an international consortium under the flag of FACCE SURPLUS (Sustainable and Resilient agriculture for food and non-food systems) ERA-Net Cofund, formed in collaboration between the European Commission and a partnership of 15 countries in the frame of the Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FACCE-JPI).

The primary objective of MISCOMAR is to develop techniques for biomass production on marginal land in Europe by

  • improving the understanding of land suitability for Miscanthus cultivation in general and especially on marginal land, and
  • developing concepts for sustainable integration of Miscanthus on farm and landscape levels.

MISCOMAR concepts

The project will consider both: the impact of the crop on soil health and condition, and the impact of these soil parameters on the crop itself and on potential end uses in relation to crop quality.


Bioenergy is a key element of the EU renewable energy strategy and exists at the interface of policies on agriculture/land use and energy generation. Currently the majority of biofuels are produced from food crops grown on agricultural land, whereas the majority of solid biomass used for heat and power is woody and comes from forests. The European Commission is proposing significant changes to the current approach due to sustainability issues. In order to avoid tension between food and fuel production, energy crops should be grown on medium or low quality agricultural land wherever possible. Here the potential of the agriculturally marginal land will be explored.

What challenges MISCOMAR addresses?

What is marginal land ?

Land may be considered agriculturally marginal for a wide range of reasons including low grade soils, unfavourable climatic conditions or soil contamination. For these reasons marginal lands are typically characterized by low productivity and reduced economic return or by severe limitations for agricultural use.

One of the current challenges in biofuels production is finding a proper balance between satisfying a constantly increasing demand with the way in which they are produced. In many cases biofuels originate from food crops grown on agricultural land. Also the majority of solid biomass used for heat and power is woody and comes from forests. It is somehow contradictory to the principles of sustainable development, being a source of tension between food and fuel production. Therefore, new approaches are needed which would ensure sufficient production capacity of biofuels without compromising food crops production. The overall tendency is to grow energy crops on medium or low quality agricultural land wherever possible rather than on clean, good quality soils that should be used exclusively for food production.

Our work focusses particularly on Miscanthus as a second generation, ligno-cellulosic biomass energy crop. Second-generation bioenergy crops provide an attractive option for avoiding land competition between first generation crops (e.g. corn or sugarcane) and food production. MISCOMAR has an ambition to contribute to unlocking this potential.

Where is innovation in MISCOMAR?

The innovative character of this project is a holistic approach. It combines:

  • identification of suitable utilisation options of the crops, especially produced on contaminated land,
  • integration of Miscanthus cultivation into landscapes
  • and crop rotations.