Submitted to: Annual International SWAT Conference
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: August 5, 2009
Publication Date: August 5, 2009
Citation: Mitchell, R., Vogel, K.P. 2009. Agronomic Considerations for Simulating Switchgrass for Biomass Energy. In 5th International SWAT Conference Abstracts, August 5-7, 2009. Technical Abstract: Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), a perennial warm-season grass native to North America, is a prime candidate for dedicated biomass energy for many regions of the USA. USDA-ARS in Lincoln, NE has conducted switchgrass research since the 1930’s. Plot-scale research has been conducted on switchgrass establishment, fertility requirements, and response to harvest date in numerous environments in the Great Plains and Midwest. Switchgrass production parameters such as economics, net energy, carbon sequestration, temporal and spatial biomass variation, and harvest and storage management have been evaluated at the field-scale on marginal land in the central and Northern Great Plains. For example, switchgrass biomass across all farms was produced for an average farm gate cost of $60 per US ton, and produced 13 times more energy as ethanol than would be required as energy from petroleum and produced 540% more renewable than non-renewable energy consumed when properly managed. Additionally, after five production years soil organic carbon was sequestered at a rate of 2.9 Mg C ha-1 yr-1 in the top 120 cm of soil. The information from these studies on economic feasibility, net energy, C-sequestration, sustainability, and best agronomic production practices forms the basis on which large scale modeling of switchgrass production for bioenergy can be based.