Date of this Version
Noble Foundation Ag News & Views. 25:12 (December 2007) (etc.)
In the 2006 State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush proposed the Advanced Energy Initiative to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil through accelerated development of domestic, renewable alternatives to gasoline and diesel fuels. A goal of the initiative was to make ethanol derived from cellulosic biomass (crop residues, fast-growing trees and grasses) cost competitive with grain ethanol by 2012. Transportation fuels derived from cellulose - the fibrous material of plants - offer an attractive alternative as an abundant, domestic and renewable resource.
The U.S. Department of Energy identified switchgrass as a model cellulosic crop because it combined more attributes desirable for bioenergy production than other grasses. Among these attributes, switchgrass was a seeded, perennial grass native throughout North America. It was widely distributed and productive across a wide geographical range.
In research at Ardmore, we have found biomass yields of switchgrass (cultivar "Alamo") to average 6.5 tons per acre. Multilocation experiments were initiated in 2007 to evaluate the response of switchgrass to nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium fertilization rates, and biomass harvesting. Data is limited or sometimes nonexistent on biomass yields of other perennial grasses for bioenergy production in Oklahoma.