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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Dawson, Georgia » National Peanut Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #346373

Research Project: Enhancing the Competitiveness of U.S. Peanuts and Peanut-based Cropping Systems

Location: National Peanut Research Laboratory

Title: Economic competiveness of napier grass in irrigated and non-irrigated Georgia Coastal Plain cropping systems

Author
item Lamb, Marshall
item Anderson, William - Bill
item Strickland, Timothy - Tim
item Coffin, Alisa
item Sorensen, Ronald - Ron
item Knoll, Joseph - Joe
item Pisani, Oliva

Submitted to: BioEnergy Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/26/2018
Publication Date: 5/21/2018
Citation: Lamb, M.C., Anderson, W.F., Strickland, T.C., Coffin, A.W., Sorensen, R.B., Knoll, J.E., Pisani, O. 2018. Economic competiveness of napier grass in irrigated and non-irrigated Georgia Coastal Plain cropping systems. BioEnergy Research. 11:574-582. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12155-018-9916-1. 2018.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12155-018-9916-1. 2018

Interpretive Summary: The Energy Independence Security Act (EISA) of 2007 mandated an increase advance biofuels to 21 billion gallons by 2022. As a result, numerous perennial warm-season grasses have been introduced and management practices evaluated to determine their suitability as biofuel feedstocks. While most of this production could be more suited for marginal cropland, understanding the farm level profitability of the feedstock production relative to traditional cropping systems is an important decision criteria for producers. To address this, ‘Merkeron’ napier grass plots were established in 2010 and harvested during crop years 2011 through 2015 adjacent to an on-going peanut, corn, and cotton cropping systems study conducted at the USDA/ARS Multi-crop Irrigation Research Farm in Shellman, Georgia. All crops were produced under non-irrigated and irrigation conditions with varying rates of nitrogen and potassium fertilizer applied to the napier grass. Breakeven price analysis defined to price per ton for Napier such that net return per acre was equal to corn, cotton, and peanuts both individually as well as combined to represent Georgia coastal plain cropping systems. Depending on traditional crop prices and bioenergy feed stock prices, napier grass could offer economic opportunities in non-irrigated production environments, riparian buffer zone edges, or non-cropped marginal production areas.

Technical Abstract: The Energy Independence Security Act (EISA) of 2007 mandated an increase in the use of advance biofuels to 21 billion gallons by 2022. As a result, numerous perennial warm-season grasses have been introduced and management practices evaluated to determine their suitability as biofuel feedstocks. While most of this production could be more suited for marginal cropland, understanding the farm level profitability of the feedstock production relative to traditional cropping systems is an important decision criteria for producers. To address this, ‘Merkeron’ napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) plots were established in 2010 and harvested during crop years 2011 through 2015 adjacent to an on-going peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.), corn (Zea mays L.), and cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) cropping systems study conducted at the USDA/ARS Multi-crop Irrigation Research Farm in Shellman, GA (84' 36' W, 30' 44' N) on a Greenville fine sandy loam (fine, kaolinitic, thermic Rhodic Kandiudults). The competitiveness of napier grass in terms of production cost per ton and relative to an existing Southeast cropping system has not been addressed. Napier grass was produced in both non-irrigated and two irrigated (Full and 50%) regimes with different levels of nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) fertilizers. Peanut, corn, and cotton were produced in non-irrigated and full irrigation regimes using recommended best management practices. The WholeFarm farm planning system (USDA/ARS) was utilized to compare the economic competitiveness of napier grass with the traditional peanut, corn, cotton cropping system. Variable cost for producing napier grass ranged from $64 to $70 Mg-1. Since no farm level price observations exist for napier grass, an alternate approach was included by estimating the breakeven napier grass price such that the net returns were equal between napier grass and peanut, cotton, corn cropping systems. At variable production cost, comparative breakeven napier grass prices for non-irrigated, 50% irrigated, and full irrigated regimes were $77, $117, and $112 Mg-1, respectively. The required breakeven napier grass price relative to the traditional cropping system along with the napier grass cost of production indicate that napier grass will not compete economically against traditional irrigated cropping systems. Depending on traditional crop prices and bioenergy feed stock prices, napier grass could offer economic opportunities in non-irrigated production environments, riparian buffer zone edges, or non-cropped marginal production areas.