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Adaptation of C4 Bioenergy Crop Species to Various Environments within the Southern Great Plains of USA

Sumin Kim, James Kiniry, Amber Williams, Norman Meki, Lewis Gaston, Melinda Brakie, Alan Shadow, Felix Fritschi, Yanqi Wu
Sustainability 2017 v.9 no.1 pp. 89
C4 plants, Miscanthus giganteus, Panicum virgatum, biofuels, biomass production, crop management, ecotypes, energy crops, environmental factors, feedstocks, fertilizer rates, growth performance, highlands, lowlands, models, nitrogen fertilizers, perennials, provenance, soil, soil fertility, Great Plains region, United States
As high productivities of perennial grasses are evaluated for feedstock, a major consideration is biomass stability. In this study, two experiments were conducted to examine some components of this for two biofuel species: switchgrass (Panicum vigratum L.) and Miscanthus x giganteus (Mxg). The potential yields of these two species were evaluated under various environmental conditions across Southern Great Plains (SGP), and including some soils with low soil fertility. In first experiment, measured yields of four switchgrass ecotypes and Mxg varied among locations. Overall, plants showed the optimal growth performance in study sites close to their geographical origins. The simulated yields of lowland switchgrasses and Mxg showed reasonable agreement with the measured yields across all study locations, while the simulated yields of upland switchgrasses were overestimated in northern locations. In the second experiment, different nitrogen fertilizer rates were utilized to investigate their effect on biomass yields. Switchgrass yields significantly increased over the range of three N rates, while Mxg only showed yield increases between the low and medium N rates. The results of this study will improve crop management of two biofuel species as well as the ability of process-based models, which are critical to develop bioenergy market systems in SGP.