Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: March 20, 2013
Publication Date: January 1, 2015
Citation: Pearson, C.H., Larson, S.R., Keske, C.M., Jensen, K.B. 2015. Native grasses for biomass production at high elevations. In: Cruz, V.M.Z., and Dierig, D.A., editors. Industrial Crops Breeding for Bioenergy and Bioproducts. New York, NY:Springer. p. 101-132. Interpretive Summary: Recent policies such as the Energy Independence Security Act of 2007 (EISA) and the second U.S. Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS), have targeted biofuel production and domestic energy independence. Developing a locally-grown biomass and biofuel products could provide economic diversification to rural communities in the Mountain West. Establishing a regional supply chain for biofuel production could diversify fuel sources, thereby providing a degree of energy security against price increases or shortages. The commercial production of cool-season perennial grass species as found in basin wildrye, basin x creeping wildrye hybrids, intermediate wheatgrass, and tall wheatgrass for lignocellulosic biomass production in the Mountain West will require considerable genetic improvement to develop these plant species for suitable biomass production.
Technical Abstract: Recent policies such as the Energy Independence Security Act of 2007 (EISA) and the second U.S. Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS), have targeted biofuel production and domestic energy independence. Hence, considerable interest has focused on producing plant biomass for conversion into biofuels for the US. Many biomass crop specie candidates and biomass resources have been proposed in recent years. Agronomic production of perennial grasses for biomass to date has largely been at the pilot scale in many areas of the country. Crops and cropping systems needed to produce low input herbaceous perennial crops to support a bioenergy economy in the Mountain West are essentially unknown. This chapter is intended to contribute towards developing biomass crop production and biofuel markets in the Mountain West with a focus on the potential of cool-season perennial grass species for biomass production and on modeling the profitability of agronomic production of perennial grasses. Tall-statured, cool-season perennial grasses including basin wildrye, creeping x basin wildrye hybrids, intermediate wheatgrass, and tall wheatgrass are viable candidates for lignocellulosic biomass.