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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVED PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES FOR PASTURES AND RANGELANDS IN THE TEMPERATE SEMIARID REGIONS OF THE WESTERN U.S. Title: Developing low-input, high-biomass, perennial cropping systems for advanced biofuels in the Intermountain West

Authors
item Pearson, Calvin -
item Keske, Catherine -
item Follett, Ronald
item Halvorson, Ardell
item Larson, Steven
item Brandess, Andrew -

Submitted to: Sungrant Initiative
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: October 2, 2012
Publication Date: February 20, 2013
Citation: Pearson, C.H., Keske, C., Follett, R.F., Halvorson, A.D., Larson, S.R., Brandess, A. 2013. Developing low-input, high-biomass, perennial cropping systems for advanced biofuels in the Intermountain West. Sungrant Initiative.

Interpretive Summary: Lignocellulosic biomass studies are being conducted to evaluate perennial herbaceous feedstocks and to determine their field performance and adaptation potential for biomass production in the Intermountain West. Field performance of four biomass entries and four inputs are being evaluated over a long-term testing period at three western Colorado locations. Also, a native grass field trial was planted in 2011 to evaluate new crosses of basin wildrye (Leymus cinereus) x creeping wildrye (Leymus triticoides) as potential biomass resources. The Introduced Biomass Treatment, consisting of mostly alfalfa, has consistently had the highest biomass yield at the Fruita site. In the first cutting that occurred in 2012 in the native grass species study, tall wheatgrass (Thinopyrum ponticum) and intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) had high biomass yields. An easy-to-use crop budget enterprise tool has been developed to model the economic viability of the various plant species being evaluated. There is agronomic and economic potential to develop 200-300,000 acres of marginal land within a 50-mile radius of Rifle for the production of dedicated, herbaceous biomass. A pilot plant nearing completion at the Colorado Mountain College will convert the various perennial biomass grass species into butanol. In order to advance production, further refinement of the definition of marginal lands for bioenergy crops is needed.

Technical Abstract: Lignocellulosic biomass studies are being conducted to evaluate perennial herbaceous feedstocks and to determine their field performance and adaptation potential for biomass production in the Intermountain West. Field performance of four biomass entries and four inputs are being evaluated over a long-term testing period at three western Colorado locations. Also, a native grass field trial was planted in 2011 to evaluate new crosses of basin wildrye (Leymus cinereus) x creeping wildrye (Leymus triticoides) as potential biomass resources. The Introduced Biomass Treatment, consisting of mostly alfalfa, has consistently had the highest biomass yield at the Fruita site. In the first cutting that occurred in 2012 in the native grass species study, tall wheatgrass (Thinopyrum ponticum) and intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) had high biomass yields. An easy-to-use crop budget enterprise tool has been developed to model the economic viability of the various plant species being evaluated. There is agronomic and economic potential to develop 200-300,000 acres of marginal land within a 50-mile radius of Rifle for the production of dedicated, herbaceous biomass. A pilot plant nearing completion at the Colorado Mountain College will convert the various perennial biomass grass species into butanol. In order to advance production, further refinement of the definition of marginal lands for bioenergy crops is needed.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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