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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lincoln, Nebraska » Wheat, Sorghum and Forage Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #322863

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

Location: Wheat, Sorghum and Forage Research

Title: Dedicated energy crops and crop residues for bioenergy feedstocks in the Central and Eastern U.S.A.

Author
item Mitchell, Robert - Rob
item Schmer, Marty
item Anderson, William - Bill
item Jin, Virginia
item Balkcom, Kipling
item Kiniry, James
item Coffin, Alisa
item White, Paul

Submitted to: BioEnergy Research
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/11/2016
Publication Date: 4/23/2016
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/62801
Citation: Mitchell, R., Schmer, M.R., Anderson, W.F., Jin, V.L., Balkcom, K.S., Kiniry, J.R., Coffin, A.W., White Jr, P.M. 2016. Dedicated energy crops and crop residues for bioenergy feedstocks in the Central and Eastern U.S.A. BioEnergy Research. 9:384-398.

Interpretive Summary: Perennial grasses and crop residues offer benefits and challenges when grown for biofuels in existing agricultural production systems in the Corn Belt and Southeastern US. Feedstock production in an agroecoregion must have a limited impact on the production of major crops while providing adequate and reliable feedstock supplies. In the Corn Belt, major advancements have been made in perennial grasses, biomass sorghum, and the management of corn stover for cellulosic biomass. Adding perennial grasses into current agricultural systems may help reduce nutrient escape from fields to surface and ground waters, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase soil carbon sequestration. In the Southeast, advancements have been made in feedstocks like energycane, biomass sorghum, and napiergrass. Dedicated energy crops can increase the production of transportation fuels from recently-fixed plant carbon rather than from fossil fuels. Although there is no “one-size-fits-all” bioenergy feedstock, crop residues like corn stover are the most readily available feedstocks. On marginally-productive cropland, 25 years of research has demonstrated that perennial grasses are profitable, productive and improve the environment.

Technical Abstract: Dedicated energy crops and crop residues will meet herbaceous feedstock demands for the new bioeconomy in the Central and Eastern USA. Perennial warm-season grasses and corn stover are well-suited to the eastern half of the USA and provide opportunities for expanding agricultural operations in the region. A suite of warm-season grasses and associated management practices have been developed by researchers from the Agricultural Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and collaborators associated with USDA Regional Biomass Research Centers. Second generation biofuel feedstocks provide an opportunity to increase the production of transportation fuels from recently fixed plant carbon rather than from fossil fuels. Although there is no “one-size-fitsall” bioenergy feedstock, crop residues like corn (Zea mays L.) stover are the most readily available bioenergy feedstocks. However, on marginally productive cropland, perennial grasses provide a feedstock supply while enhancing ecosystem services. Twenty-five years of research has demonstrated that perennial grasses like switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) are profitable and environmentally sustainable on marginally productive cropland in the western Corn Belt and Southeastern USA.