Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Published in Bioenerg. Res. (2010) 3: 243-250. DOI: 10.1007/s12155-009-9070-x. U.S. government work.


Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is being developed as a biofuel feedstock for the United States. Efficient and accurate methods to estimate switchgrass biomass feedstock supply within a production area will be required by biorefineries. Our main objective was to determine the effectiveness of indirect methods for estimating biomass yields and composition of switchgrass fields. Indirect measurements were conducted in eastern Nebraska from 2003 to 2007 in which switchgrass biomass yields were manipulated using three nitrogen rates (0 kg N ha-1, 60 kg N ha-1, and 120 kg N ha-1) and two harvest periods (August and post-killing frost). A modified Robel pole was used to determine visual obstruction, elongated leaf height, and canopy height measurements. Prediction models from the study showed that elongated leaf height, visual obstruction, and canopy height measurements accounted for >91%, >90%, and >82% of the variation in switchgrass biomass, respectively. Regression slopes were similar by cultivar (“Cave-in-Rock” and “Trailblazer”), harvest period, and across years indicating that a single model is applicable for determining biomass feedstock supply within a region, assuming similar harvesting methods. Sample numbers required to receive the same level of precision were as follows: elongated leaf height