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Switchgrass Biomass Simulation At Diverse Sites In The Northern Great Plains Of The U.S.

J. Kiniry, M. Schmer, K. Vogel, R. Mitchell
Published 2008 · Environmental Science

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The Agricultural Land Management Alternatives with Numerical Assessment Criteria (ALMANAC) model, originally developed and tested in Texas, needs to be tested for switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) simulation in more northerly locations. The Northern Great Plains of the U.S. has regionally adapted native populations of switchgrass and has excellent potential for growing switchgrass as a biofuel crop. The objective of this study was to adjust switchgrass parameters (potential leaf area index (DMLA) and degree days to maturity (PHU)) for northern sites and populations and to validate the model against switchgrass data from diverse sites in this region. Three or 4 years of measured yield data were used from a ten field sites in North Dakota (ND), South Dakota (SD), and Nebraska (NE). ALMANAC realistically simulated mean annual switchgrass yields ranging from means of 4.75 to 9.13 Mg ha−1. Mean simulated yields were within 3%, 15%, and 9% of mean measured yields for NE, SD, and ND, respectively. Sensitivity analysis with temperature and rainfall demonstrated variable responses of potential yields depending on whether season duration, soil water, or soil nitrogen was the limiting factor at a site. ALMANAC shows promise as a useful tool for switchgrass evaluation and management in the northern Great Plains and in similar latitudes with low rainfall such as the East European Plain.
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