2010 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The principal objective of the project is to develop and enhance cooperative bioenergy research between USDA-ARS lead projects conducting bioenergy research on switchgrass, Sorghum, energy cane, Miscanthus, and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land with SunGrant University scientists conducting research on the same species at different locations.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
ARS scientists involved in bioenergy research on switchgrass, Sorghum, energy cane, Miscanthus, and CRP lands will attend SunGrant planning and reporting meetings and interact with scientist receiving SunGrant funds for bioenergy feedstock research, provide ARS bioenergy research accomplishment reports, reports on current research, and develop potential areas of cooperative and collaborative research where feasible. Except for initial preliminary planning sessions, ARS scientist involvement in SunGrant research has been limited because of SunGrant program imposed funding restrictions, even though ARS scientists are conducting leading research in the major energy crops.
ARS scientists attended the SunGrant Feedstock Partnership planning and reporting meeting in San Antonio, TX on 23-24 February. ARS scientists interacted with other SunGrant-funded scientists to develop potential areas of cooperative research. The ADODR monitored project activities through written progress updates, PowerPoint slides, phone conversations, hosting site visits from ARS scientists, and face-to-face meetings. Specific progress reports follow for each of the five bioenergy feedstocks.
Switchgrass was harvested in August in eastern NE and after a killing frost, packaged in big round and big square bales, and stored inside or outside. Bales were stored for 12 months and weighed and sampled at 3-month intervals. All bales have been weighed and biomass loss during storage is being determined. More than 2,900 samples have been processed and prepared for NIRS analysis to determine changes in feedstock quality under different storage conditions.
The sorghum team leader integrated into the existing SunGrant evaluation trial in 2010. Sorghum hybrids were planted in a replicated field trial in mid June. Seedlings have emerged and are growing. Harvest is planned for October.
The energy cane team leader has been integrated with the SunGrant evaluation trial since its inception. Germplasm evaluations continue at eight DOE-funded locations from Georgia to Hawaii and as far north as Athens, GA and Starkville, MS to determine energy cane tolerance to cold, soil type, drought, flooding, and pests. Additional locations have received germplasm from the team leader identical to those at the funded sites. Investigations continue to evaluate yield, persistence, management inputs, fiber concentration and sugar content at the eight DOE-funded locations.
Investigations continue on the invasive potential and population dynamics of two Miscanthus species at five locations in Illinois. Seed dispersal studies have been initiated for both Miscanthus species. Studies of the potential impact of Miscanthus invasions on the native plant diversity in prairie and forest habitats were initiated at 6 central Illinois sites in spring 2010.
Site visits were conducted throughout the region to evaluate researchable needs and coordinate existing research on other perennial energy crops with research on CRP lands. The CRP research literature was surveyed to evaluate the potential of CRP lands to provide a reliable supply of bioenergy feedstocks.