Areas with Natural Constraints to Agriculture: Possibilities and Limitations for The Cultivation of Switchgrass (Panicum Virgatum L.) and Giant Reed (Arundo Donax L.) in Europe

  • Parenti Andrea
  • Lambertini Carla
  • Andrea Monti


The European Union is facing complex issues concerning the achievement of GHG reduction goals. CO2 emissions could be reduced by a rational allocation of perennial lignocellulosic crops on unsuitable land for agriculture. These crops would also potentially reverse the increasing trend of soil depletion and land abandonment in Europe. The Joint Research Centre (JRC) identified biophysical constraints aimed at defining and unifying the definition of marginal land across Europe, and evaluating agricultural opportunities in these areas. In this study we evaluate possibilities and limitations for the cultivation of two of the most promising perennial biofuel crops (giant reed and switchgrass) in Europe, in areas with natural constraints (ANC land), as identified by the JRC. Based on the literature, both giant reed and switchgrass appear suitable for ANC land. Only shallow rooting depth and waterlogging can limit the establishment and agricultural mechanization of these rhizomatous plant species. Field tests in ANC land are needed to assess the potential yields provided by lignocellulosic crops under such limiting conditions. These results are fundamental to stimulate farmers’ acreage expansion and the development of a supply chain. Further research in the impact of lignocellulosic crops on the evolution of ANC ecosystems and lignocellulosic species is also needed to ensure a sustainable use of ANC land.


Biophysical constraints Marginal land Land suitability Giant reed Switchgrass 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Parenti Andrea
    • 1
  • Lambertini Carla
    • 1
  • Andrea Monti
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.Alma Mater Studiorum – University of BolognaBolognaItaly

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