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Title: Impacts of management practices on bioenergy feedstock yield and economic feasibility on Conservation Reserve Program grasslands

Perennial grass mixtures planted on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land are a potential source of dedicated bioenergy feedstock. Long-term nitrogen (N) and harvest management are critical factors for maximizing biomass yield while maintaining the longevity of grass stands. A six-year farm-scale study was conducted to understand the impact of weather variability on biomass yield, determine optimal N fertilization and harvest timing management practices for sustainable biomass production, and estimate economic viability at six CRP sites in the United States. Precipitation during the growing season was a critical factor for annual biomass production across all regions, and annual biomass production was severely reduced when growing season precipitation was below 50% of average. The N rate of 112 kg ha -1 produced the highest biomass yield at each location. Harvest timing resulting in the highest biomass yield was site-specific and was a factor of predominant grass type, seasonal precipitation, and the number of harvests taken per year. The use of N fertilizer for yield enhancement unambiguously increased the cost of biomass regardless of the harvest timing for all six sites. The breakeven price of biomass at the farmgate ranged from 37 dollars to 311 dollars Mg -1 depending on the rate ofmore » N application, timing of harvesting, and location when foregone opportunity costs were not considered. Breakeven prices ranged from 69 dollars to 526 dollars Mg -1 when the loss of CRP land rental payments was included as an opportunity cost. Annual cost of the CRP to the federal government could be reduced by over 8% in the states included in this study; however, this would require the biomass price to be much higher than in the case where the landowner receives the CRP land rent. Lastly, this field research demonstrated the importance of long-term, farm-scale research for accurate estimation of biomass feedstock production and economic viability from perennial grasslands.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [6] ;  [7] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1]
  1. Univ. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL (United States)
  2. North Dakota State Univ., Carrington, ND (United States)
  3. Montana State Univ., Moccasin, MT (United States)
  4. The Univ. of Georgia, Athens, GA (United States)
  5. Kansas State Univ., Hays, KS (United States)
  6. Oklahoma State Univ., Stillwater, OK (United States)
  7. Univ. of Missouri, Columbia, MO (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Global Change Biology. Bioenergy
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 8; Journal Issue: 6; Journal ID: ISSN 1757-1693
Research Org:
South Dakota State Univ., Brookings, SD (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
09 BIOMASS FUELS; biomass; breakeven price; cool-season mixture; harvest management; nitrogen management; opportunity cost; perennial grasses; warm-season mixture
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1361201; OSTI ID: 1401643