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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPMENT OF MODELS AND CONSERVATION PRACTICES FOR WATER QUALITY MANAGEMENT AND RESOURCE ASSESSMENTS

Location: Grassland, Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Title: Clash of the Titans: Comparing productivity via radiation use efficiency for two grass giants of the biofuel field

Authors
item Kiniry, James
item Johnson, Mari-Vaughn
item Bruckerhoff, Steven -
item Kaiser, Jerry -
item Cordsiemon, Ron -
item Harmel, Daren

Submitted to: BioEnergy Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 2, 2011
Publication Date: March 1, 2012
Citation: Kiniry, J.R., Johnson, M., Bruckerhoff, S.B., Kaiser, J.U., Cordsiemon, R.L., Harmel, R.D. 2012. Clash of the Titans: Comparing productivity via radiation use efficiency for two grass giants of the biofuel field. BioEnergy Research. 5(1):41-48.

Interpretive Summary: Two highly productive perennial grasses commonly considered for biofuel are switchgrass and Miscanathus. Their comparative productivity is of critical importance to the biofuel industry. The radiation use efficiency (RUE), when derived in an environment with non-limiting soil water and soil nutrients, provides one measure of relative productivity. The objective of this study was to compare Miscanthus with high productivity switchgrass cultivars, using established methods of measurements to allow calculation of RUE of each at two diverse sites. Measurements of fraction intercepted light and dry matter were taken on plots at Elsberry, Missouri (Miscanthus and three cultivars of switchgrass) and at Gustine, Texas (with Miscanthus and Alamo switchgrass, irrigated with dairy wastewater and a non-irrigated control). Miscanthus overall mean RUE (4.10) was nearly identical to Alamo switchgrass overall mean RUE (4.17). At Elsberry, the more northern lowland switchgrass cultivar, Kanlow, also showed nearly identical mean RUE (3.70) as Miscanthus (3.71). The northern upland cultivar, Cave-in-Rock, at Elsberry had a mean RUE (3.17) that was only 85 percent of the mean for Miscanthus at that site. Stress (water and nutrients) had a greater effect on Miscanthus RUE than on switchgrass RUE at Gustine. These results provide realistic values for simulating these important biofuel grasses in diverse environmental conditions.

Technical Abstract: The comparative productivity of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) and Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus) is of critical importance to the biofuel industry. The radiation use efficiency (RUE), when derived in an environment with non-limiting soil water and soil nutrients, provides one metric of relative productivity. The objective of this study was to compare Miscanthus with high productivity switchgrass ecotypes, using established methods of measurements to allow calculation of RUE of each. Measurements of fraction intercepted photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) and dry matter were taken on plots at Elsberry, Missouri (with Miscanthus and three ecotypes of switchgrass) and at Gustine, Texas (with Miscanthus and Alamo switchgrass, irrigated with dairy wastewater and a non-irrigated control). Miscanthus overall mean RUE (4.10) was nearly identical to Alamo switchgrass overall mean RUE (4.17). At Elsberry, the more northern lowland switchgrass ecotype, Kanlow also showed nearly identical mean RUE (3.70) as Miscanthus at Elsberry (3.71). The northern upland ecotype, Cave-in-Rock, at Elsberry had a mean RUE (3.17) that was only 85 percent of the mean for Miscanthus at that site. Stress (water and nutrients) had a greater effect on Miscanthus RUE than on switchgrass RUE at Gustine. These results provide realistic values for simulating these important biofuel grasses in diverse environmental conditions.

Last Modified: 7/24/2014
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