U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Document Type


Date of this Version



Biofuels, Bioprod. Bioref. 2:530–539 (2008); DOI: 10.1002/bbb


The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has identified switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) as a viable perennial herbaceous feedstock for cellulosic ethanol production. Although switchgrass bioenergy research was initiated by USDA-ARS, Lincoln, NE, USA in 1990, switchgrass research has been conducted at this location since the 1930s. Consequently, a significant amount of genetic and agronomic research on switchgrass has been conducted for the Corn Belt and Central Great Plains of the USA that is directly applicable to its use as a biomass energy crop. Similar research must be conducted in other major agroecoregions to verify or modify switchgrass management practices (agronomics) for bioenergy production. The technology to utilize switchgrass for producing ethanol using a cellulosic platform or by pyrolysis to generate syngas is advancing rapidly. Regardless of platform, using switchgrass for ethanol production will require the development of improved bioenergy cultivars or hybrids and improved agronomics to optimize production and will introduce competing uses for the land base.