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Dedicated Energy Crops and Crop Residues for Bioenergy Feedstocks in the Central and Eastern USA

R. B. Mitchell, M. R. Schmer, W. F. Anderson, V. Jin, K. S. Balkcom, J. Kiniry, A. Coffin, P. White
BioEnergy research 2016 v.9 no.2 pp. 384-398
Agricultural Research Service, Panicum virgatum, Zea mays, biofuels, biomass, carbon, corn, corn stover, cropland, ecosystem services, energy crops, feedstocks, fossil fuels, perennials, researchers, transportation, warm season grasses, Corn Belt region, Southeastern United States
Dedicated energy crops and crop residues will meet herbaceous feedstock demands for the new bioeconomy in the Central and Eastern USA. Perennial warm-season grasses and corn stover are well-suited to the eastern half of the USA and provide opportunities for expanding agricultural operations in the region. A suite of warm-season grasses and associated management practices have been developed by researchers from the Agricultural Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and collaborators associated with USDA Regional Biomass Research Centers. Second generation biofuel feedstocks provide an opportunity to increase the production of transportation fuels from recently fixed plant carbon rather than from fossil fuels. Although there is no “one-size-fits-all” bioenergy feedstock, crop residues like corn (Zea mays L.) stover are the most readily available bioenergy feedstocks. However, on marginally productive cropland, perennial grasses provide a feedstock supply while enhancing ecosystem services. Twenty-five years of research has demonstrated that perennial grasses like switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) are profitable and environmentally sustainable on marginally productive cropland in the western Corn Belt and Southeastern USA.