Ural Federal University: Carbon Farms May Appear in Urals

The Ural Federal University Botanical Garden is growing highly productive plants that could be planted in carbon farms. Scientists plan to propose planting areas of potential carbon landfills in the Sverdlovsk region with unpretentious herbaceous crops that will absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen very efficiently.

“Carbon landfills are areas where we do not interfere, where vegetation characteristic of our region is formed: dark coniferous, light coniferous forests, and other natural communities. Carbon farms are a continuation and development of the project. With their help we can intensify the process: plant areas with high-yield plants and in this way artificially increase the carbon dioxide sequestration rate. Carbon farms are a continuation of the Ural-Carbon project, and we are already preparing to offer plants for the farms,” says Viktor Valdayskikh, Director of the Ural Federal University Botanical Garden.

Plants grown in the Ural Federal University Botanical Garden are unpretentious: they are winter-hardy, do not require increased heat or amount of light. They feel well in the changing conditions of the Urals. Some are annuals, some are perennials, such as Weyrich’s Heather or Syrian cotton-grass, and some other highly productive perennial herbaceous plants.

“The Syrian cotton grass is a fodder crop. It is very persistent, it has grown actively in our area, it even sprouted out of the asphalt. It has a very high protein content, more than corn. With enough moisture, it can reach three meters. Moreover, mordovnik spherical-headed mullein is suitable for carbon farms. In addition to being highly active in carbon sequestration, it also contains alkaloids – medicinal substances,” notes Tatiana Okoneshnikova, an engineer at the Ural Federal University Botanical Garden.

Scientists believe that the plants can be disposed of ecologically. Some species can be used as biofuel, others as animal feed, and still others as human food, such as amaranth.

“Amaranth seeds are used to make flour with a high content of the useful amino acid lysine. It is also a source of calcium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus and iron. Amaranth grows literally by sight – under good weather conditions, it can grow 20 centimeters in one day and eventually reach three meters in height. Amaranth is one of the few plants in the so-called C4-photosynthesis group. This means that in these plants, the carbon sequestration process is three to four times more efficient than in conventional photosynthesis. Therefore, these plants are extremely promising for carbon farms,” the director of the Ural Federal University Botanical Garden described the plant.

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