Switchgrass: On-Farm Biomass Yields in the Northern Great Plains

Kenneth Vogel, Research Geneticist
Marty Schmer, Research Technologist
Rob Mitchell, Rangeland Scientist, USDA-ARS, Lincoln, NE

Richard Perrin, Professor, Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Table of Contents


Materials and Methods

Results and Discussion


   South Dakota

   North Dakota

   Northern Great Plains




Switchgrass, a native prairie grass, has been identified as a potential biomass energy crop. Although switchgrass has been used as a pasture grass and for conservation purposes, it has not been grown and managed as a commercial biomass energy crop. Biomass yields and productions costs associated with production of energy from switchgrass have been estimated from small plot and laboratory data. To obtain field-scale biomass yields and production costs, we contracted with eleven producers in the Northern Plains states of Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota to grow and manage switchgrass as a biomass energy crop. The cooperators' fields range in size from 15 to 23 acres, and are located from southern Nebraska to northern North Dakota. Harvested area of one field has been reduced in size to 7 acres. The fields selected had characteristics that would have qualified them for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and are typical of the surrounding geographical region. The land base for herbaceous energy crops will likely be CRP-type land. The Nebraska fields were planted in 2000 and the South and North Dakota fields were planted in 2001. In this report, we summarize biomass yields and stands by individual farms for the four or five year period.


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NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center

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