Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: December 9, 2011
Publication Date: February 21, 2012
Citation: Skinner, R.H., Zegada-Lizarazu, W., Schmidt, J.P. 2012. Environmental impacts of switchgrass management for bioenergy production. In: Monti, A. editor. Switchgrass: a valuable biomass crop for energy. London, United Kingdom: Springer-Verlag. p. 129-152.
Interpretive Summary: Switchgrass is increasingly being grown as a biomass crop for bioenergy production, both because of its high yield potential and also for its presumed environmental benefits. However, little information is actually available on the environmental services provided by switchgrass such as carbon sequestration, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reduced runoff and soil erosion and reduced nutrient leaching. This chapter reviews that available literature and concludes that switchgrass does provide multiple environmental benefits compared to annual crop cultivation. However, benefits generally appear to be similar to other perennial crops.
In this chapter, we review major environmental impacts of growing switchgrass as a bioenergy crop, including effects on carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion, nutrient leaching, and runoff. Information from life-cycle analyses, including the effects of indirect land-use change, is examined to quantify the full impact of migration to bioenergy cropping systems on both managed and natural ecosystems. Information on the environmental impacts of switchgrass cultivation is scarce and there exists a critical need for additional research. What limited information there is suggests that switchgrass provides multiple environmental benefits compared to annual crop cultivation. However, benefits generally appear to be similar to other perennial crops.