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ARS Home » Plains Area » Woodward, Oklahoma » Rangeland and Pasture Research » Research » Research Project #416749


Location: Rangeland and Pasture Research

2012 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
The objective of the experiment is to observe and quantify the effects of land conversion from grassland or tilled agricultural land (wheat) to a cellulosic biofuel crop of switchgrass. This project will allow cooperation by multiple institutions and multiple disciplines to study feedstock production of cellulosic biofuels on the Southern Plains.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Two sites of Alamo switchgrass will be established: one on the Southern Plains Range Research Station in Woodward, Oklahoma and one at the Southern Plains Experimental Range near Ft. Supply, Oklahoma. The data harvested will be watershed carbon, water, and energy fluxes; soil carbon amount and quality, biomass production, water consumption and runoff, and soil erosion. The information gathered will be used to develop recommendations for efficient biofuels production that mitigate impacts on air and water quality.

3. Progress Report:
The objective of this cooperative agreement is to study carbon sequestration by pasture and cropland converted to switchgrass production for biofuels. This year the pasture site still has a fair stand of switchgrass resulting from the April 2010 planting; however, due to the record drought of 2011, it has decreased in quality because of plant mortality and invasion by winter-annual grasses. The cropland site, which had previously been in wheat production for over 60 years, was planted to switchgrass in April 2009. With the 2 years of drought conditions and the sandy soils of this site, it is now nearly devoid of switchgrass and has been invaded by fall witchgrass. Eddy covariance towers have collected carbon flux data on both sites since 2009. These carbon flux data have been transferred to the cooperating laboratory at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for analysis. Biomass production estimates have been collected monthly during the growing season, along with total leaf area measurements. Water recharge in soils is now being monitored by electronic devices and data have been transferred to the cooperator at Oklahoma State University.

4. Accomplishments