Location: Soil, Water & Air Resources Research
Project Number: 5030-12000-015-10-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Aug 1, 2011
End Date: Jul 31, 2017
This regional CAP project will develop sustainable bioenergy production systems for the Midwest or North Central States of the USA based on perennial grasses grown on marginal croplands in the region. The Bioenergy CAP project has eight different components. ARS scientists in the Northern Plains Area, Midwest Area, and Northeast Area are participating in two components “Feedstock Development” or breeding and “Sustainable Production Systems” or management. Specific objectives are to develop improved cultivars of switchgrass, big bluestem, indiangrass, and native legumes for the North Central USA for conversion to liquid fuels in biorefineries with an emphasis on pyrolysis. Improved management practices will be developed to optimize biomass yields and feedstock quality while reducing economic costs and inputs and enhancing the environmental benefits of utilizing perennial grasses in production systems on marginal lands.
Feedstock development work will be conducted by ARS-Lincoln and ARS-Madison. Breeding work at Lincoln will develop improved grasses and legumes for the central latitudes of the USA while Madison will develop improved grasses for the northern latitudes. Current work on switchgrass for biomass energy and forage breeding of big bluestem, indiangrass, and native legume will be expanded to include breeding for biomass energy. Sorghum will be used as a model species to test effect of changes in biomass quality on pyrolysis yields. Feedstock production work will have system analyses trials in which large plots (about 0.5 hectare) will be used to obtain sustainability information including C sequestration, greenhouse gas, economic, and system productivity information. Factor analysis trials will have small plot studies that will be used to address specific problem areas such as fertilizer rates, harvest dates herbicides, and other management variables.