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Switchgrass Production in Marginal Environments: A Comparative Economic Analysis across Four West Tennessee Landscapes

Listed author(s):
  • Mooney, Daniel F.
  • Roberts, Roland K.
  • English, Burton C.
  • Tyler, Donald D.
  • Larson, James A.

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) has been identified as a model feedstock for the emerging biofuels industry. Its selection was based, in part, upon the observation that switchgrass can produce high yields in marginal production environments. This trait may become particularly valuable in coming years, as renewable fuel mandates begin to take effect and concerns over the food-versus-fuel debate increase. Relatively little research information exists about how management practices and production costs vary across different production environments. The objectives of this research were (a) to compare switchgrass yields as influenced by seeding rate and nitrogen fertilization rates in low-, intermediate-, and high-yielding switchgrass production environments, (b) to determine the economically optimal seeding rate and nitrogen fertilization rate for each environment, and (c) to calculate per-ton production costs. Experimental yield data from four locations were utilized for this study. Plots were seeded in 2004 with treatments of 2.5, 5.0, 7.5, 10.0, and 12.5 lbs/acre. Nitrogen was applied in subsequent intervals at 0, 60, 120 and 180 lbs/acre. For an expected stand lifespan of 10 years, production costs ranged from $45 per ton in a well drained level upland environment ideal for the production of row crops to $70 per ton in a marginal, poorly drained flood plain in which the switchgrass stand was slow to establish and which demonstrated lower overall yields.

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Paper provided by American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association) in its series 2008 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2008, Orlando, Florida with number 6403.

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Date of creation: 2008
Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea08:6403
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  1. Daniel G. De La Torre Ugarte & Burton C. English & Kim Jensen, 2007. "Sixty Billion Gallons by 2030: Economic and Agricultural Impacts of Ethanol and Biodiesel Expansion," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1290-1295.
  2. Torre Ugarte, Daniel de la & Walsh, Marie E. & Shapouri, Hosein & Slinsky, Stephen P., 2003. "The Economic Impacts of Bioenergy Crop Production on U.S. Crop Production," Agricultural Economics Reports 33997, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  3. Petrolia, Daniel R., 2006. "The Economics of Harvesting and Transporting Corn Stover for Conversion to Fuel Ethanol: A Case Study for Minnesota," Staff Papers 14213, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
  4. Duffy, Michael & Nanhou, Virginie, 2002. "Costs of Producing Switchgrass for Biomass in Southern Iowa," Staff General Research Papers Archive 10346, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  5. Haque, Mohua & Epplin, Francis M. & Aravindhakshan, Sijesh C. & Taliaferro, Charles M., 2008. "Cost to Produce Cellulosic Biomass Feedstock: Four Perennial Grass Species Compared," 2008 Annual Meeting, February 2-6, 2008, Dallas, Texas 6817, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
  6. Hallam, Arne & Anderson, I. C. & Buxton, D. R., 2001. "Comparative Economic Analysis of Perennial, Annual and Intercrops for Biomass Production," Staff General Research Papers Archive 5076, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  7. Lawrence D. Mapemba & Francis M. Epplin & Charles M. Taliaferro & Raymond L. Huhnke, 2007. "Biorefinery Feedstock Production on Conservation Reserve Program Land," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 29(2), pages 227-246.
  8. Francis M. Epplin & Christopher D. Clark & Roland K. Roberts & Seonghuyk Hwang, 2007. "Challenges to the Development of a Dedicated Energy Crop," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1296-1302.
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