Submitted to: Biofuels International Magazine
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: February 29, 2012
Publication Date: March 6, 2012
Citation: Mitchell, R., Vogel, K.P. 2012. Switchgrass: a productive, profitable, and sustainable biofuel feedstock. Biofuels International Magazine. Horseshoe Media Ltd., Surrey, UK. 6(2):58-59. Interpretive Summary: Switchgrass is a perennial grass native to North America and is a leading candidate for biofuel production. It requires fewer inputs than traditional row crops and is well adapted to marginally-productive cropland. The USDA location in Lincoln, Nebraska has been working with switchgrass continually since 1936. Although switchgrass is not a one-size-fits-all bioenergy feedstock and more extensive research is needed, switchgrass is the most advanced herbaceous perennial feedstock. The research to date fully supports that switchgrass for bioenergy is productive, profitable for the farmer, and protective of the environment.
Technical Abstract: Switchgrass is a model biofuel feedstock for the USA. Progress has been made in all areas of switchgrass for bioenergy and a complete field-validated biomass production system has been developed. However, switchgrass for bioenergy has not been adopted on a large scale. This is a classic chicken-and-egg scenario. Farmers are reluctant to plant switchgrass if a bioenergy market does not exist and biorefineries are hesitant to build without a viable feedstock supply. Switchgrass is well-suited to ethanol or bio-oil production, but is not a one-size-fits-all feedstock. Bioenergy-specific research during the past 20 years has demonstrated clearly that switchgrass for bioenergy is productive, profitable for the farmer, and protective of the environment.