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Going Native: Diverse grassland plants edge out crops as biofuel

Mixtures of plants native to prairies can give a better energy return as biofuel than corn and soybeans do, a new study finds. Biofuel production from grassland plants would also result in lower emissions of carbon dioxide and reduced pollution from agricultural chemicals.

Corn-grain ethanol and soybean biodiesel are starting to replace some gasoline and petrodiesel (SN: 7/15/06, p. 36: Farm-Fuel Feedback: Soybeans have advantages over corn). However, corn and soy crops need large amounts of pesticides, water, and fertilizers.

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