Agave is a very hardy, useful plant. It grows in hot, arid conditions, and has found use in the production of beverages, food, and fiber. Now, it looks like it could have yet one more use – a Mexican botanist believes it could be an excellent biofuel feedstock. Not only does it grow quickly, but global climate change shouldn't adversely affect it, and it doesn't compete with food crops.
Prof. E. Garcia-Moya and colleagues at the Colegio de Postgraduados en Ciencias Agricolas came to their conclusions after studying published research on agave. Its yields are similar to those of highly-productive biomass crops such as corn, and much higher than other desert plants. Also, it should continue to thrive as global temperatures climb and precipitation becomes more sporadic – something that cannot be said of most crops.
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"Agave is a potential candidate as a bioenergy feedstock because it does not compete for land with the production of commodities and it is widely distributed in Mexico," said Garcia-Moya. "Waste remaining in the fields after harvest, and created during tequila and mescal production, can potentially provide thousands of tons of bioenergy feedstock per year for bioenergy production."
The research was recently published in Global Change Biology Bioenergy.