Submitted to: Eastern Native Grass Symposium
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: September 27, 2006
Publication Date: October 13, 2006
Citation: Sanderson, M.A., Adler, P.R., Skinner, R.H., Dell, C.J. 2006. Biofuels Research with Native Grasses at the USDA-ARS Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit, University Park, Pennsylvania. In: Sanderson, M.A., Adler, P., Goslee, S., Ritchie, J., Skinner, H., Soder, K., editors. Proceedings of the Fifth Eastern Native Grass Symposium, October 10-13, 2006, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. p. 8. Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.
Technical Abstract: Research on switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) as a biomass energy crop is conducted at several USDA-ARS facilities across the USA. At the USDA-ARS Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit in University Park, Pennsylvania, research on biomass energy focuses on cropping systems, environmental effects, and management practices. Cropping systems research compares the biomass and energy yields of perennial [switchgrass and reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea L.)] and annual (corn, Zea mays L.) components in different combinations. In addition, the biomass energy crop rotations are compared with conventional (corn-alfalfa, Medicago sativa L.) crop rotations, and a grazing system for carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions. Management of switchgrass for biomass focuses on harvest timing and frequency for conservation lands, compatibility of production systems with wildlife habitat, and variety selection. Environmental research includes measuring soil carbon sequestration under switchgrass and green house gas emissions from switchgrass production. Research is conducted in collaboration with Penn State University, Colorado State University, USDA-ARS scientists at Lincoln, NE, Wyndmoor, PA, and Ft. Collins, CO. A critically important part of the program is the on-farm research with producers in Maryland and Pennsylvania. The on-farm research provides opportunities to do research at relevant landscape scales and also serves as a technology transfer mechanism. Recent research accomplishments include a resource assessment of the botanical composition, biomass yield, and biofuels quality of biomass on conservation lands; demonstrating the potential for using switchgrass bioenergy cropping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture; and developing seasonal harvest guidelines for switchgrass.