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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Switchgrass for Biomass: Farm Scale Production Practices Affect Feedstock Costs and Quantities in the Northern Great Plains

Authors
item Vogel, Kenneth
item Perrin, Richard - UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA
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: Vogel, K.P., Perrin, R.K., Mitchell, R., Schmer, M.R. 2006. Switchgrass for Biomass: Farm scale production practices affect feedstock costs and quantities in the Northern Great Plains. Program and Abstracts, 8th Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals. Nashville, TN. p.56

Interpretive Summary: Switchgrass was managed as a biomass energy crop for five years on 10 farms in Nebraska and South and North Dakota during the period 2000 to 2005. Primary production factors that affected feedstock costs were stand establishment which affected first and second year yields, fertilization and harvest management which affected post-establishment yields, and available precipitation which affected both establishment and yields. All factors except for precipitation can be significantly improved by management. Farmers that had the lowest production costs used recommended planting guidelines, best-available herbicides, followed fertilizer guidelines, and harvested at the recommended cutting height and stage of maturity. Improvements in yield and reduction in per ton costs can be achieved by improving seed quality and seed quality testing, pre-establishment year cropping sequences, seedbed preparation, herbicide applications, improved fertilizer recommendations based on production and soil tests, improved cultivars, and improved harvesting and storage technologies. Case examples will be provided to illustrate the effect of production practices on feedstock costs. Biorefineries will need to have agronomists on their staffs to provide technical production information to their producers.

Technical Abstract: Switchgrass was managed as a biomass energy crop for five years on 10 farms in Nebraska and South and North Dakota during the period 2000 to 2005. Primary production factors that affected feedstock costs were stand establishment which affected first and second year yields, fertilization and harvest management which affected post-establishment yields, and available precipitation which affected both establishment and yields. All factors except for precipitation can be significantly improved by management. Farmers that had the lowest production costs used recommended planting guidelines, best-available herbicides, followed fertilizer guidelines, and harvested at the recommended cutting height and stage of maturity. Improvements in yield and reduction in per ton costs can be achieved by improving seed quality and seed quality testing, pre-establishment year cropping sequences, seedbed preparation, herbicide applications, improved fertilizer recommendations based on production and soil tests, improved cultivars, and improved harvesting and storage technologies. Case examples will be provided to illustrate the effect of production practices on feedstock costs. Biorefineries will need to have agronomists on their staffs to provide technical production information to their producers.

Last Modified: 11/26/2014
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