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Keywords:

  • biomass;
  • conservation reserve program (CRP);
  • cool-season mixture;
  • feedstock;
  • harvest management;
  • nitrogen management;
  • warm-season mixture

Abstract

The Biomass Regional Feedstock Partnership has identified grasslands planted under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) as a potential source for herbaceous bioenergy feedstock. The goal of this project is to assess the yield potential of CRP grasslands across diverse regions. Consistent with that goal, the objective of this project was to establish yield potential and quality parameters for several different CRP grasslands, representative of different growing environments. Standard field scale agricultural practices were used as management guidelines at each location. The test locations were identified and established based on known regions containing concentrated tracts of CRP grassland and represented variable climatic parameters and production histories. Biomass production potential for CRP land dominated by either warm- or cool-season grass mixtures in each location was evaluated over the course of three growing seasons (2008, 2009, and 2010). Specifically, a mixture of warm-season perennial grasses was evaluated in North Dakota, Kansas, and Oklahoma, while a cool-season mixture was evaluated in Montana, Georgia, and Missouri. Maximum biomass yields for the three warm-season CRP sites ranged from 4.0 to 7.2 Mg ha−1 and for the three cool-season CRP sites 3.4–6.0 Mg ha−1. Our results demonstrate that CRP grassland has potential as a bioenergy feedstock resource if the appropriate management practices are followed.