Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/21/2008
Publication Date: 5/25/2009
Citation: Weimer, P.J., Morris, J.B. 2009. Grasses and Legumes for Bio-Based Products. In: Wedin, W.F., Fales, S.L. editors. Grassland: Quietness and Strength for a New American Agriculture. Madison, WI: American Society for Agronomy/Crop Science Society of America/Soil Science Society of America. p. 221-233. Interpretive Summary: Grasses and legumes have long been used as animal feed, and may one day serve as feedstocks to support a massive biofuels industry. They also have a variety of other uses as construction materials, textiles, pulp and paper, components of engineering composites, and a source for nutrients and pharmaceuticals to improve human health. Sustainable cropping systems for these feedstocks provides an opportunity to satisfy various end uses in an environmentally friendly manner.
Technical Abstract: Grasses and legumes are the foundation of ruminant animal agriculture, but over the last 50 years the use of forages has declined in the developed world, largely due to their displacement by high-energy grain feedstuffs. Keeping forages on the landscape to take advantage of their many environmental benefits will require the development of new markets for forages. While the developing cellulosic ethanol industry can potentially divert large amounts of forages to the production of fuel ethanol, there are a number of other potential uses for forages that can enhance the profitability of forage cultivation. These include use of forages in structural building materials, engineered composites, and as sources for textile fibers, pulp and paper, commodity chemicals and specialty chemicals, including enzymes, nutraceuticals, functional foods, and medicinal foods.