New Grass Prevents Flooding. With half of Grand Rapids underwater, it’s time for America’s annual spring discussion about flood prevention.
It’s well known that sprawling asphalt cities turn whole areas into the flooding equivalent of Antelope Canyon, requiring cities to greatly expand storm drain capacity for even moderate storms and putting houses underwater during the worst events. It’s simple: concrete doesn’t absorb water; grass, shrubs and trees do.
When it comes to grass, though, not all species are created equal. In a paper published on Thursday in Scientific Reports, researchers at three British universities have announced the development of a hybrid grass that is significantly more absorbent than its peers.
Dr. Kit Macleod, catchment scientist at the James Hutton Institute and one of the authors of the paper, said: “Hybrid grasses of this type show potential for reducing the likelihood of flood generation, whilst providing pasture for food production under conditions of changing climate.
“In areas with similar climate and soils, then there is potential for reducing the likelihood of flood generation based on increased soil water storage within a river’s catchment.”
Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive of BBSRC, said: “We usually think of improving food crops solely in terms of traits such as the yield and quality of the food itself, and apart from root crops such as potatoes and carrots these are easily visible, above-ground traits. However, there is increasing recognition that the health and utility of plants can be greatly enhanced by improving below-ground traits such as root growth.
“This is a superb example of that reasoning, and a hugely important advance resulting from decades of fundamental BBSRC-supported work on the hybridization of Lolium and Festuca (Fescue) species. I am sure that we shall see a continuing resurgence of interest in root biology, which findings such as this are sure to promote. The enormous savings that will be possible by mitigating flooding through planting grasses such as these dwarf any possible cost of producing them.”