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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: SWITCHGRASS ON-FARM BIOMASS YIELDS IN THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS

Authors
item Vogel, Kenneth
item Schmer, Marty
item Mitchell, Robert
item Perrin, Richard - UNI OF NE

Submitted to: Extension Reports
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: December 28, 2004
Publication Date: January 30, 2005
Citation: Vogel, K.P., Schmer, M.R., Mitchell, R., Perrin, R. 2005. Switchgrass on-farm biomass yields in the northern great plains. NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center. Grass & Beef Research Review. p. 14-16. NDSU CGREC, Streeter, ND.

Interpretive Summary: Switchgrass, a native prairie grass, has been identified as a potential biomass energy crop. Although switchgrass has been used as a pasture grass and for conservation purposes, it has not been grown and managed as a commercial biomass energy crop. To obtain field-scale biomass yields and production costs, on-farm trials have been conducted with cooperating farmers in the Northern Plains states of Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota since 2000. Since the land base for herbaceous energy crops will likely be Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) type land, the fields selected for use in the study had characteristics that would have qualified them for this program. Results to date indicate that in these Northern Great Plains states, switchgrass biomass yields of over 3 tons per acre can be produced on CRP-type fields using existing cultivars and production technology. Existing switchgrass cultivars were developed for use in pastures and not for biomass energy. It should be feasible to increase biomass yields using cultivars bred for use as biomass energy crops and improved management practices. The results of these field studies clearly demonstrate the need to obtain good stands and harvestable yields the establishment year. This requires high quality seed, good seedbed preparation, and establishment year weed control with herbicides.

Technical Abstract: Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) has been identified as a potential biomass energy crop. Although switchgrass has been used as a pasture grass and for conservation purposes, it has not been grown and managed as a commercial biomass energy crop. To obtain field-scale biomass yields and production costs, on-farm trials have been conducted with cooperating farmers in the Northern Plains states of Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota since 2000. Since the land base for herbaceous energy crops will likely be Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) type land, the fields selected for use in the study had characteristics that would have qualified them for this program. Results to date indicate that in these Northern Great Plains states, switchgrass biomass yields of over 3 tons per acre can be produced on CRP-type fields using existing cultivars and production technology. Existing switchgrass cultivars were developed for use in pastures and not for biomass energy. It should be feasible to increase biomass yields using cultivars bred for use as biomass energy crops and improved management practices. The results of these field studies clearly demonstrate the need to obtain good stands and harvestable yields the establishment year. This requires high quality seed, good seedbed preparation, and establishment year weed control with herbicides.

Last Modified: 9/1/2014
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