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

Results and Discussion-North Dakota


Initial stands were low on the fields at Streeter and Munich, North Dakota (Figure 3). The Streeter site was seeded into a field that was converted from oats and the herbicides that were used did not adequately control the oats. With good management including the use of herbicides to control specific weeds, the stands have improved. The field at Munich was planted using a grain air seeder followed by light tillage. Stands were erratic across the field even though pre-emergence herbicides were used. The stands have been improved by delaying biomass harvest until after a killing frost allowing seeds to shatter.

Biomass yields in 2003 and 2004 ranged from 2 to over 4 tons per acre at the two fields. Another field was planted near Underwood, North Dakota but inadequate stands have been obtained even though the field was entirely replanted. We believe the problem has been high soil pH. Recently completed research at the USDA-ARS Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory has shown that switchgrass germination is significantly reduced at pH levels of 8 or higher.



Figure 3. Switchgrass biomass yields and stands for two farms in North Dakota. Year 1 is 2001 and Year 4 is 2004 for all fields. Inadequate stands were obtained on another farm near Underwood, ND due to high soil pH levels.


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