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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Switchgrass: Production, Economics, and Net Energy

item Vogel, Kenneth

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/20/2007
Publication Date: 8/20/2007
Publication URL:
Citation: Vogel, K.P. 2007. Switchgrass: Production, Economics, and Net Energy. Meeting Abstract.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The critical questions for a biomass bioenergy production system are: • What are the economics? • Is energy from biomass net energy positive? • Is production system information available and verified? • Is the system sustainable? To address these questions, ten farmers in the mid-continental USA were contracted to grow switchgrass in full fields for a five year period and manage it as a biomass energy crop using available cultivars and management practices during the period 2000-2005. Based on farmer input and production records, switchgrass biomass feedstock could have been produced in this region at a cost of about $50 Mg-1 at the farm gate, which translates to about $0.13 per liter of ethanol. Net energy yield on the established switchgrass fields was 60 GJ ha-1 y-1. Switchgrass in these farmer trials produced 540% more renewable energy than nonrenewable energy consumed. Switchgrass monocultures managed for high yield had greater net energy yield and produced 93% more liquid fuel per unit area than previous estimates from man-made prairies that receive low agricultural inputs. These baseline studies represents the technology that was available for switchgrass in 2000 and 2001 when the fields were planted but clearly demonstrate that for switchgrass a full array of production system technology is available for its use for biomass energy. Improved genetics and agronomics will further enhance energy sustainability and biofuel yield of switchgrass.Carbon sequestration research is still in progress, but the initial results are very encouraging.

Last Modified: 06/26/2017
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