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Giant miscanthus production on Maryland Eastern Shore marginal land: Grassroots efforts to research an alternative crop

Applied Research

Haley Sater
Agent Associate – Agriculture and Food Systems
University of Maryland Extension


The Eastern Shore of Maryland has historically been a productive area for growing conventional grain crops. However, in certain areas close to the Chesapeake Bay tributaries or low elevation three serious challenges have arisen: saltwater intrusion, frequent flooding events and increased deer pressure. These once fertile fields for growing agronomic crops have been left fallow or suffered total yield losses. Preliminary research has indicated that an alternate grass crop could withstand these marginal conditions. Giant miscanthus (Miscanthus giganteus) is a sterile hybrid warm season grass that was bred to be a biomass crop. It has a potential market on the Eastern Shore because it is used in local poultry houses as a bedding material. The goal of this study is to evaluate a 10 acre commercially managed field of miscanthus in an area where all three factors (saltwater intrusion, deer pressure, and flooding) are present. Our research methods included observations about deer traffic using wildlife cameras, soil moisture monitoring at different depths in six areas of the field and 20 12 m subplot yield measurements. Results indicate that miscanthus can be grown successfully on marginal land with a first-year yield average of 2.8 tons per acre.

Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC

This poster is being submitted for judging. It will be displayed at the AM/PIC if not selected as a State winner. The abstract will be published in the proceedings.

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Authors: Haley Sater, Sarah Hirsh, Jon Moyle
  1. Sater, H. Wicomico County Agriculture Educator , Univeristy of Maryland Extension, Maryland, 21801
  2. Hirsh, S. Somerset County Agriculture Educator , Univeristy of Maryland Extension, Maryland, 21853
  3. Moyle, J. Poultry Specialist , University of Maryland Extension, Maryland, 21801