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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Switchgrass for Biomass: Commercial-Scale Production Costs in the Northern Great Plains

Authors
item Perrin, Richard - UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA
item Vogel, Kenneth
item Mitchell, Robert
item Schmer, Marty

Submitted to: Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 1, 2006
Publication Date: April 30, 2006
Citation: Perrin, R.K., Vogel, K.P., Mitchell, R., Schmer, M.R. 2006. Switchgrass for Biomass: Commercial-Scale Production Costs in the Northern Great Plains. Program and Abstracts, 8th Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals. Nashville, TN. p.55

Interpretive Summary: Switchgrass is a potential commercial biomass feedstock but field scale economic data have been limited. Here we report initial results on switchgrass cost of production for five years by ten farmer-cooperators on 15-24 acre fields in the Northern Great Plains. Four fields in Nebraska were grown during 1999 to 2004, and six fields in North and South Dakota were grown during 2000 to 2005. A total of 173 acres were planted, 10 acres of which were abandoned because of poor establishment due to drought. Total five-year expenditures on these 173 acres were $63,000, plus land rent totaling $48,416. Total production was 2,240 US tons of air-dry switchgrass, for an average yield over the four production years of 3.4 US tons per acre per year, resulting in an average cost of $33/ton plus $17/ton for land rent. If establishment costs are pro-rated over nine production years, cost falls an additional $6/t. Yields through the five years averaged 0.4, 2.5, 3.2, 4.2 and 3.2 tons/acre. Year 1 was the establishment year. Total costs for individual farms ranged from 26 to 66 $/ton. Reducing establishment costs and increasing establishment and post-establishment year yields could reduce total farm gate cost of switchgrass biomass.

Technical Abstract: Switchgrass is a potential commercial biomass feedstock but field scale economic data have been limited. Here we report initial results on switchgrass cost of production for five years by ten farmer-cooperators on 15-24 acre fields in the Northern Great Plains. Four fields in Nebraska were grown during 1999 to 2004, and six fields in North and South Dakota were grown during 2000 to 2005. A total of 173 acres were planted, 10 acres of which were abandoned because of poor establishment due to drought. Total five-year expenditures on these 173 acres were $63,000, plus land rent totaling $48,416. Total production was 2,240 US tons of air-dry switchgrass, for an average yield over the four production years of 3.4 US tons per acre per year, resulting in an average cost of $33/ton plus $17/ton for land rent. If establishment costs are pro-rated over nine production years, cost falls an additional $6/t. Yields through the five years averaged 0.4, 2.5, 3.2, 4.2 and 3.2 tons/acre. Year 1 was the establishment year. Total costs for individual farms ranged from 26 to 66 $/ton. Reducing establishment costs and increasing establishment and post-establishment year yields could reduce total farm gate cost of switchgrass biomass.

Last Modified: 12/17/2014
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