The MISCOMAR project is divided into 6 work packages:

WP0 Management and coordination

Leader : IETU

The overall objective of WP0 is to coordinate the different experimental tasks proposed in the project, manage knowledge transfer/dissemination and outreach activities, and to provide an appropriate organizational and management framework to achieve the scientific and technological (S&T) objectives. The management and coordination activities will therefore aim to deliver these objectives and high-quality results through knowledge transfer within the given timeframe and budget. It will establish continuous and open communication between the consortium and the European Commission, develop decision-making strategies with contingency plans for the consortium and oversee management of knowledge and intellectual property.

WP1 Miscanthus biomass production potential on marginal and contaminated lands

Leader : IETU

The objective of WP1 is to investigate the field performance of novel and stress tolerant Miscanthus hybrids in comparison to the standard genotype M. x giganteus on economically marginal (low grade arable, Unterer Lindenhof, Germany) and heavy metal (HM) contaminated soils (Katowice, Poland). The hybrids selected for this project are already being trialled by IBERS, currently planted in Lincolnshire in 2015 at a pre-commercial scale, and offer the most promising options for near to market crop lines. This existing UK trial in non-marginal, higher grade arable land will provide reference biomass material for optimal performance comparisons to material produced under marginal conditions at sites developed by the other partners. In addition this site will provide insights into soil characteristic changes in land-use transition from intensive annual arable to perennial Miscanthus. Different crop establishment methods adapted to marginal site conditions will be tested with the objective to identify optimal systems for “genotype x site x crop management” combinations for biomass production under marginal conditions. These will be compared to similar establishment practices trialled in Lincolnshire with recommendations developed for strategies to use marginal land for Miscanthus production. For HM contaminated land this might result either in opportunities of using this land for biomass production if genotypes are found that tolerate HM, or even result in HM remediation options, if genotypes are found that are able to accumulate significant amounts of HM in their biomass.

WP2 Quantification of changes in soil carbon and structure under Miscanthus

Leader : IBERS

WP2 aims to quantify the impacts of Miscanthus production on soil parameters and the beneficial effects for soil fertility and crop production. A baseline archive of soil samples will be created and followed up after three years to record structure and chemical composition changes under the new crops. Soil core samples will be collected from the new sites developed by Poland and Germany along with the existing site in Lincolnshire, in addition an established M. x giganteus site at Aberystwyth (planted into marginal grassland in 2005) will be re-sampled to complement similar analyses carried out previously at establishment and 6 years later in 2011. These samples will add to a growing archive of European soils collected during earlier projects and will help provide a resource for future studies looking at soil characteristics over time, such as changes in carbon stocks under land-use change.

WP3 Valorisation of Miscanthus biomass end use from marginal and HMC land

Leader : UHOH

The objective of WP3 is to identify utilisation options for biomass from novel Miscanthus hybrids and study the impact of varying environmental conditions, e.g. HM contamination, on potential Miscanthus end uses. The biomass quality is a crucial factor for potential end uses and therefore the quality of the novel Miscanthus hybrids will be assessed for possible end uses, including anaerobic digestion and combustion. The environmental impact, especially HM contamination, will be considered in this WP, because it could affect the quality for possible end uses, e.g. ash melting behaviour and substrate-specific methane yield. Since HM contamination is also a legal issue, anaerobic digestion may be a smarter utilisation option, because contaminants remain in the digestate and could be possibly extracted. While the primary objective of this work package will be to determine the performance of biomass from novel Miscanthus hybrids in anaerobic digestion and combustion, consideration will also be given to the suitability of the biomass produced for a wider range of end uses including building materials.

WP4 Integrating Miscanthus into Farming Systems: improving environmental and economic performance

Leader : UHOH

The objective of WP4 is to develop concepts for the integration of Miscanthus into existing landscapes, crop rotations and farming systems, based on data and information generated in WP1, WP2 and WP3 of MISCOMAR, and from farmer surveys. These concepts will consider different landscape types, including intensive arable, marginal and contaminated land, and will aim to maximise the ecological and economic benefits of Miscanthus production. The concepts will also suggest opportunities for farmers to maximise income from biomass production, conversion and on-farm use. The developed concepts will help policy makers drive an agenda of environmental resilience and economic stability.

WP5 Dissemination, promotion and outreach activities

Leader: IETU

The MISCOMAR results will be disseminated in WP5. This will lead directly on from WP4 in providing information about Miscanthus biomass production options and how they might fit into, or even replace, existing systems. WP leader IETU.