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Biomass production potential of grasslands in the oak savanna region of Minnesota, USA
- Gillitzer, Peter A., Wyse, Donald L., Sheaffer, Craig C., Taff, Steven J., Lehman, Clarence C.
- BioEnergy research 2013 v.6 no.1 pp. 131-141
- biomass production, chemical composition, cool season grasses, ethanol, feedstocks, forage production, glucose, grasslands, harvest date, nutrients, savannas, senescence, soil properties, warm season, warm season grasses, xylose, Minnesota
- Biomass harvested from grasslands formerly used for forage production or set aside for conservation has been identified as a potential source of bioenergy feedstocks. Our objective was to characterize yield and chemical composition of biomass harvested from existing grasslands in the oak savanna region of Minnesota and to determine whether aggregated soil properties and grassland type influence biomass yield and feedstock properties. The influence of soil type and dominant functional plant groups on biomass yield, theoretical ethanol yield, and mineral, ash, and lignocellulosic concentration was measured on biomass harvested from 32 grassland sites. Soils with high productivity ratings, as measured by the Minnesota Crop Productivity Index, produced 36 % more biomass than lower quality soils. Grasslands dominated by warm-season species produced 18 % more biomass than those dominated by cool-season species, when measured after senescence during the late-fall harvest time. Biomass harvested from sites dominated by cool-season grasses had higher N, Mg and Cl concentrations than those dominated by warm-season grasses, suggesting that such grasslands could have lower efficiency in thermochemical conversion processes and that repeated harvesting from such grasslands could remove nutrients from the systems. In addition, glucose and xylose concentrations were slightly higher in biomass from sites dominated by warm-season grasses, which resulted in an estimated additional 12 L Mg⁻¹ of ethanol over those dominated by cool-season grasses. Combined with the greater yields, warm-season grasslands could produce an additional 376 L ha⁻¹ year⁻¹.