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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Switchgrass Production in Washington – Part II of Biofuel Feedstocks in Washington

Authors
item Collins, Harold
item Boydston, Rick
item Fransen, Steve - WASH STATE UNIVERSITY
item Hang, An - WASH STATE UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: Pacific Northwest Sustainable Agriculture Newsletter
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: April 23, 2007
Publication Date: April 23, 2007
Citation: Collins H.P., Boydston,R.A., Fransen S., Hang A.N. 2007. Switchgrass Production in Washington – Part II of Biofuel Feedstocks in Washington. Pacific Northwest Sustainable Agriculture Newsletter. ARIS 213741

Interpretive Summary: The Integrated Cropping Systems group at Prosser, WA made up of WSU and USDA-ARS personnel have been evaluating production aspects of a number of irrigated biofuel crops that can be planted in rotation with high value vegetables: oilseeds for biodiesel (safflower, soybeans, mustard, canola/rapeseed) and high biomass producing crops for ethanol production (wheat, corn and switchgrass). These trials are unique in that they are the first comprehensive biofuel trials within Washington State and they provide essential and timely information on biofuel crop production potentials as the nascent bioenergy industry develops. Long term adaptability and economic potential of switchgrass as an ethanol feedstock grown in the PNW are largely unknown. We have found that switchgrass is well adapted to the warmer and irrigated regions and may be a a viable alternative to corn for ethanol production. Benefits of switchgrass production include: a perennial growth habit eliminates the need for annual tillage and thereby reduces soil loss from erosion; lower fertilizer requirements and fewer pest issues result in decreased fertilizer and pesticide use; the potential to produce a harvestable biomass under low moisture conditions since plants become dormant under moisture stress, unlike corn which would senesce and produce little harvestable yield; and a demonstrated production and adaptation potential demonstrated in research trials in the lower Columbia Basin region since 2001.

Technical Abstract: The Integrated Cropping Systems group at Prosser, WA made up of WSU and USDA-ARS personnel have been evaluating production aspects of a number of irrigated biofuel crops that can be planted in rotation with high value vegetables: oilseeds for biodiesel (safflower, soybeans, mustard, canola/rapeseed) and high biomass producing crops for ethanol production (wheat, corn and switchgrass). These trials are unique in that they are the first comprehensive biofuel trials within Washington State and they provide essential and timely information on biofuel crop production potentials as the nascent bioenergy industry develops. Long term adaptability and economic potential of switchgrass as an ethanol feedstock grown in the PNW are largely unknown. We have found that switchgrass is well adapted to the warmer and irrigated regions and may be a a viable alternative to corn for ethanol production. Benefits of switchgrass production include: a perennial growth habit eliminates the need for annual tillage and thereby reduces soil loss from erosion; lower fertilizer requirements and fewer pest issues result in decreased fertilizer and pesticide use; the potential to produce a harvestable biomass under low moisture conditions since plants become dormant under moisture stress, unlike corn which would senesce and produce little harvestable yield; and a demonstrated production and adaptation potential demonstrated in research trials in the lower Columbia Basin region since 2001.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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