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ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #254506

Title: Cellulosic Biofuel Production with Winter Cover Crops: Yield and Nitrogen Implications

item Feyereisen, Gary
item Baker, John
item RICHARD, T - Pennsylvania State University
item BAXTER, R - Pennsylvania State University
item CAMARGO, G - Pennsylvania State University

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/28/2010
Publication Date: 11/1/2010
Citation: Feyereisen, G.W., Baker, J.M., Richard, T.L., Baxter, R., Camargo, G. 2010. Cellulosic Biofuel Production with Winter Cover Crops: Yield and Nitrogen Implications [abstract]. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts. Available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Interest in renewable energy sources derived from plant biomass is increasing. Growing cover crops after harvest of the primary crop has been proposed as a solution to producing cellulosic biomass on existing crop-producing land without reducing food-harvest potential. Growing cover crops is a recommended practice for uptake of excess soil N, yet the impact on water quality of maximizing or optimizing the spring cover crop yield has not been studied. We hypothesize that cover crops grown during the non-primary-crop growing season can contribute to bioenergy production over much of the eastern U.S.; however, water quality impacts will vary given the need for additional N fertilization. This study estimates biomass accumulation and nitrogen dynamics of a fall-planted winter rye cover crop over the eastern half of the United States on corn – soybean-producing croplands. A cover crop simulation model, RyeGro, was used to estimate biomass production and plant-soil nitrogen interactions after corn harvest and prior to the subsequent corn or soybean crop. The range of area for which an economically viable accumulation of biomass could be harvested extends from the East Coast to the states bordering the Mississippi River. The short growing season of the northern Corn Belt limits viable cover crop bioenergy production potential.