Monday, November 2, 2009: 11:00 AM
Convention Center, Room 412, Fourth Floor
Switchgrass (panicum virgatum) has been suggested as a possible biofuel feedstock crop because of its ability to produce large amounts of biomass over a wide range of growing conditions and its ability to sequester atmospheric carbon into stable soil organic carbon (SOC). Appalachia has the potential to become a center of biofuel production with its large expanses of reclaimed mine lands that are central to the U.S. energy market. Switchgrass production on surface mine land offers the unique opportunity to increase the land resources devoted to energy crops without decreasing the land devoted to food and livestock feed production. Switchgrass has been shown to be a prolific accumulator of SOC in many agricultural soils throughout the United States. However, minesoils, with their less than optimum growing conditions may limit switchgrass’ ability to sequester C underground. Minesoils frequently have soil chemical and physical characteristics that may limit plant growth. Our intention with this study is to identify the best varieties of switchgrass for mined lands in northern Appalachia, their planting and management requirements, yields, biofuel feedstock potential, capacity for carbon capture and sequestration and other revenue streams. Three mine sites in West Virginia were selected to establish switchgrass and monitor yield. Three varieties of switchgrass were randomly assigned and planted into 0.4 ha plots, which were replicated three times for a total of nine plots at each site. Planting was conducted in May of 2008. Stand frequency was between 78% and 98% across each variety and each mine sites at the end of the 2008. Another reclaimed mine site in southwestern Pennsylvania was selected to study carbon sequestration of different aged switchgrass stands. Data for SOC, total C and several other chemical and physical factors including, pH, electrical conductivity, bulk density and nutrient concentration will be presented.
Additional Keywords: switchgrass, carbon sequestration, mine land reclamation