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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lincoln, Nebraska » Wheat, Sorghum and Forage Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #309628

Research Project: Improving bioenergy and forage plants and production systems for the central U.S.

Location: Wheat, Sorghum and Forage Research

Title: Switchgrass response to nitrogen fertilizer across diverse environments in the USA: a regional feedstock partnership report

Author
item HONG, C - South Dakota State University
item OWENS, VANCE - South Dakota State University
item BRANSBY, DAVID - Auburn University
item FARRIS, RODNEY - Oklahoma State University
item FIKE, JOHN - Virginia Tech
item HEATON, EMILY - Iowa State University
item KIM, S - South Dakota State University
item MAYTON, HILLARY - Cornell University - New York
item Mitchell, Robert - Rob
item VIANDS, DON - Cornell University - New York

Submitted to: BioEnergy Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/14/2014
Publication Date: 8/25/2014
Citation: Hong, C.O., Owens, V., Bransby, D., Farris, R., Fike, J., Heaton, E., Kim, S., Mayton, H., Mitchell, R., Viands, D. 2014. Switchgrass response to nitrogen fertilizer across diverse environments in the USA: a regional feedstock partnership report. BioEnergy Research. 7:777-788.

Interpretive Summary: The Regional Feedstock Partnership is a collaboration of the Sun Grant Initiative, the US Department of Energy, and the US Department of Agriculture. A major aspect of this partnership is the field-scale evaluation of switchgrass at multiple sites across the USA. Switchgrass fields were planted in New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Virginia in 2008 and in Iowa in 2009 and managed with field-scale equipment. Nitrogen fertilizer was applied at three rates each spring beginning the year after planting and switchgrass was harvested once each year after dormancy. Switchgrass biomass ranged from 0.9 to 5.1 tons per acre across locations and years, with lowest yields occurring in the first year after planting. Switchgrass biomass yield increased with N levels in 6 of 19 environments. Initial soil N levels were lowest in SD and VA (where significant N responses were observed) and highest at the other three locations (where no N response occurred). Although N rate affected biomass N and hemicellulose concentrations, location and year had the largest effects on all quality parameters. These results demonstrate the importance of local field-scale research and proper N management to reduce unnecessary expense and potential negative environmental impacts of switchgrass grown for bioenergy.

Technical Abstract: The Regional Feedstock Partnership is a collaborative effort between the Sun Grant Initiative (through Land Grant Universities), the US Department of Energy, and the US Department of Agriculture. One segment of this partnership is the field-scale evaluation of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) in diverse sites across the USA. Switchgrass was planted (11.2 kg PLS ha-1) in replicated plots in New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Virginia in 2008 and in Iowa in 2009. Adapted switchgrass cultivars were selected for each location and baseline soil samples collected before planting. Nitrogen fertilizer (0, 56, and 112 kg N ha-1) was applied each spring beginning the year after planting, and switchgrass was harvested once annually after senescence. Establishment, management, and harvest operations were completed using fieldscale equipment. Switchgrass production ranged from 2 to 11.5 Mg ha-1 across locations and years. Yields were lowest the first year after establishment. Switchgrass responded positively to N in 6 of 19 location/year combinations and there was one location/year combination (NY in Year 2) where a significant negative response was noted. Initial soil N levels were lowest in SD and VA (significant N response) and highest at the other three locations (no N response). Although N rate affected some measures of biomass quality (N and hemicellulose), location and year had greater overall effects on all quality parameters evaluated. These results demonstrate the importance of local field-scale research and of proper N management in order to reduce unnecessary expense and potential environmental impacts of switchgrass grown for bioenergy.