Towards identifying industrial crop types and associated agronomies to improve biomass production from marginal lands in Europe

Danilo Scordia, Eleni G. Papazoglou, Danai Kotoula, Marina Sanz, Carlos S. Ciria, Javier Pérez, Oksana Maliarenko, Oleh Prysiazhniuk, Moritz von Cossel, Beatrice E. Greiner, Dagnija Lazdina, Kristaps Makovskis, Isabelle Lamy, Lisa Ciadamidaro, Lucas Petit-dit-Grezeriat, Sebastiano A. Corinzia, Ana L. Fernando, Efthymia Alexopoulou, Salvatore L. Cosentino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
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Growing industrial crops on marginal lands has been proposed as a strategy to minimize competition for arable land and food production. In the present study, eight experimental sites in three different climatic zones in Europe (Mediterranean, Atlantic and Continental), seven advanced industrial crop species [giant reed (two clones), miscanthus (M. × giganteus and two new seed-based hybrids), saccharum (one clones), switchgrass (one variety), tall wheatgrass (one variety), industrial hemp (three varieties) and willow (eleven clones)], and six marginality factors alone or in combination (dryness, unfavorable texture, stoniness, shallow soil, topsoil acidity, heavy metal and metalloid contamination) were investigated. At each site, biophysical constraints and low-input management practices were combined with prevailing climatic conditions. The relative yield of a site-specific low-input system compared with the site-specific control was from small to large (i.e. from −99% in industrial hemp in the Mediterranean to +210% in willow in the Continental zone), due to the genotype-by-management interaction along with climatic variation between growing seasons. Genotype selection and improved knowledge on crop response to changing environmental, site-specific biophysical constraint and input application has been detected as key to profitably grow industrial crops on marginal areas. This study may act to provide hints on how to scale up investigated cropping systems, through low-input practices, under similar environmental and soil conditions tested at each site. However, further attention to detail on the agronomy of early plant development and management in larger multi-year and multi-location field studies with commercially scalable agronomies are needed to validate yield performances, and thereby to inform on the best industrial crop options.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)710-734
Number of pages25
JournalGCB Bioenergy
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • biomass crops
  • biophysical constraints
  • contaminated land
  • farming systems
  • iLUC-risk
  • less favored areas
  • relative yield


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