Source: UNIV OF MINNESOTA submitted to
OPTIMIZING PRODUCTIVITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL VALUE OF PERENNIAL BIOMASS CROPS
Sponsoring Institution
State Agricultural Experiment Station
Project Status
TERMINATED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0215062
Grant No.
(N/A)
Project No.
MIN-13-074
Proposal No.
(N/A)
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
(N/A)
Project Start Date
Jul 1, 2011
Project End Date
Jun 30, 2016
Grant Year
(N/A)
Project Director
Johnson, G. A.
Recipient Organization
UNIV OF MINNESOTA
(N/A)
ST PAUL,MN 55108
Performing Department
Agronomy & Plant Genetics
Non Technical Summary
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: We now have the real possibility of new markets being created in Minnesota to support the expanding bioproducts industry. Access to these new markets is critical for the sustained long-term growth of farming operations in Minnesota. However, we must be careful to maintain balance between access to new markets and support of existing grain and fiber markets. Finding ways to efficiently diversify our cropping systems in a way that captures multiple markets is one way to address these challenges. Diversified cropping systems not only improve market access and potential for increased farm profits, but they also can help address other important issues such as water quality. It is, therefore, important that we think carefully about the research agenda that will ultimately support diverse cropping patterns in Minnesota. I believe that research must first focus on production issues that will ultimately reduce risk to the farmer, industry, and rural communities. Furthermore, we must also be aware of how these production systems impact or possibly provide a solution for environment issues now and in the future. The value gained by selective placement of dedicated biomass crops will come from an understanding of how crop growth and productivity is influenced by terrain, soil properties, and other attributes. Optimizing commodity production (i.e. food, bio-based products, or feedstock for heat/liquid fuels) and environmental benefits (e.g. soil stabilization, phytoremediation, carbon sequestration, and/or wildlife habitat) will require a deeper understanding of growth environments and surrounding landscape structures or features. To that end, we hope to develop knowledge-based decision tools that can be used by farmers and other land managers to design cropping systems that meet market demands for food, fiber, and biomass, address critical environment issues, and optimize profitability. This project will focus on an integrated approach to site preparation and weed control in the establishment phase of woody biomass crop production. Evaluation trials will also be conducted to identify promising willow and poplar lines in collaboration with existing breeding programs at SUNY/Syracuse and NRRI. Information from these trials will allow us to identify which clones are best adapted for this area. I also want to expand the evaluation of new herbaceous plant varieties such as false indigo and perennial flax being developed by a team of faculty in Agronomy and Plant Genetics that show promise in the bioproducts markets. Field work is being conducted at the SROC to characterize a range of attributes/values associated with six biomass cropping systems representing five functional groups; hybrid poplar and willow (woody perennials), alfalfa (perennial legume), perennial flax (perennial forb) switchgrass (perennial grass), and corn (annual grass). Water table depth and soil nitrate concentrations will be measured in each crop and landscape position. We will also obtain separate soil cores to determine the particle-size distribution, organic carbon content, and soil water retention characteristics.
Animal Health Component
100%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
(N/A)
Applied
100%
Developmental
(N/A)
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
2050670106040%
2052299106020%
2052410106020%
2160670106020%
Goals / Objectives
OBJECTIVES: For perennial-based bioproducts cropping systems to be viable in the short and long-term, we must recognize and exploit the full range of economic, environmental, and social values of these systems. Perennial biomass crops are unique in that they provide multiple values to the farming enterprise. Therefore, we must position biomass crops in a way that optimizes these multiple values over time and space. In doing so, farmers and other land managers may be more willing to adopt these new systems because they are replacing a single income source with a system that generates multiple values. This project will provide a baseline from which to begin expanding the scope and scale of added-value cropping systems work and will be used to develop regional guidelines for selecting the biomass production system that is best for a particular combination of soil and landscape position. This necessarily requires a multidisciplinary approach to landscape design that ultimately achieves the desired level of economic growth in the context of a multifunction agriculture. We are currently conducting a large field study to characterize the growth and development of seven biomass crops. We are interested in exploring 1) differences in plant growth and development between woody tree species (willow and poplar), a perennial forage legume (alfalfa), a warm-season perennial grass (switchgrass), and a warm-season annual grass (maize) as a function of landscape position and 2) the relationship between plant growth and environment across seven landscape positions. Results from 2 years of monitoring plant growth and the biomass yield show that landscape position does have an effect on plant growth and development. In addition, our preliminary analysis reveals that certain soil and terrain properties affect these yield values differently depending on the crop or landscape position. Our use of Bayesian statistical methods in addition to traditional approaches allows us to not only analyze the effects of landscape position properties on biomass crops, but also gives us the ability to predict yield when such landscape position properties are known. I am also interested in organizing a multidisciplinary research group to develop new indices that describe processes related to water movement and soil physical and chemical characteristics rather than rely on more static variables in the development of predictive models for optimizing the placement of crops on the landscape. This is a new project that represents a change in research focus from integrated weed management to integrated biomass management strategies. This change in direction uses the same research tools that were used in previous projects, e.g. spatial and temporal analysis of plant growth and development, but in a different cropping system. OBJECTIVES: 1. Develop best management practices for the establishment phase of short rotation woody crops. 2. Evaluate new varieties of woody and herbaceous plant material 3. Evaluate crop placement strategies that optimize productivity at the field scale while addressing environmental issues.
Project Methods
APPROACH: Objective 1. Develop best management practices for the establishment phase of short rotation woody crops. Replicated small plot field trials will be conducted to evaluate various herbicides and herbicide combinations for weed control in willow and poplar managed for biomass production in reduced tillage systems. We will also identify promising cover crops that may help control weeds while stabilizing the soil. Crop competitiveness is also a weed management tool and will be used along with herbicides and cover crops to further reduce the risk of yield loss due to weed competition. Objective 2. Evaluate new varieties of woody and herbaceous plant material. We are currently conducting small plot evaluation trials at the SROC to identify promising willow and poplar lines in collaboration with existing breeding programs at SUNY/Syracuse and NRRI. Information from these trials will allow us to identify which clones are best adapted for this area. It will also help guide breeders as they start new programs aimed at developing better varieties for this region. I also want to expand the evaluation of new herbaceous plant varieties such as false indigo and perennial flax being developed by a team of faculty in Agronomy and Plant Genetics that show promise in the bioproducts markets. Objective 3. Evaluate crop placement strategies that optimize biomass productivity at the field scale while addressing environmental issues. Field work is being conducted at the SROC to characterize a range of attributes/values associated with six biomass cropping systems representing five functional groups; hybrid poplar and willow (woody perennials), alfalfa (perennial legume), perennial flax (perennial forb) switchgrass (perennial grass), and corn (annual grass). The experimental design comprises four replicates of six crops (subplots) at each landscape position (main plots). This design will allow us to use a Bayesian hierarchical framework to analyze data using a co-regionalized, multi-resolution, spatially-varying statistical model (Banerjee and Johnson, 2006). Plant growth data will be calculated for each species in all the growth environments. Biomass species will be compared within and between landscape environments. My plan is to measure water table depth and soil nitrate concentrations in each crop and landscape position using nested piezometers and corresponding solution samplers. A rainfall simulator will be used at each experimental site to estimate the water quality impacts of runoff from each cropping system treatment. These results will be used to estimate rates of surface runoff, erosion and nutrient losses. Soil cores will be collected to a depth of 2 m before and after the simulated rainfall. Soil cores will be analyzed and used to infer the rates of downward leaching of nutrients and carbon. Biomass yield for each crop at each location for the duration of the study period will allow an estimation of potential evapotransporation and soil water status. We will also obtain separate soil cores to determine the particle-size distribution, organic carbon content, and soil water retention characteristics.

Progress 07/01/11 to 06/30/16

Outputs
Target Audience: Nothing Reported Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? Nothing Reported How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?Results of this work have been disserminated through a variety of outlets and formats. Findings have been presented at UofM field days throughout the year and at selected UofM Extension training events. We have also presented findings at professional meetings (e.g. ASA and ESA) and have written numerous peer-reviewed publications. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Nothing Reported

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? Agroforestry techniques, such as alley cropping, are being promoted for sustainable bioindustrial feedstock production. However, little is known about appropriate species combinations and long-term production potential of biomass crops in alley cropping systems. We found that perennial biomass alley cropping systems can provide substantial biomass and environmental benefits, but optimal species combinations for maximizing these benefits will depend on local site characteristics. Therefore, more local data (current and future) is needed to help farmers and land managers make decisions on how best to design agroforestry systems that are productive, profitable, and sustainable. Consequently, we designed a database for storing local production data using standardized forms. This database allowed us to create a web-based enterprise budget for alley-cropping and other perennial-based cropping systems that manages unique users, receives and saves local input and output data. We design a web-based decision support tool that helps make cropping system decisions in an intuitive and simple format. We created a new decision support tool called 'The Crop Enterprise and Environmental Budgeting Tool (CE2T)' that is designed to estimate the breakeven price needed to cover the costs of producing biomass from conventional and alternative feedstocks. Moreover, we included a crop model that allows for CE2T to evaluate environmental components, i.e. carbon, of the cropping system being considered. Through this project, we were able to provide short and long-term economic and production estimates that reflect real-world data linked to local environments. We conducted field trials to quantify biomass yield across a range of perennial herbaceous and woody crops over time and environments. Field experiments were conducted at three locations in Minnesota from 2006-2011 with treatments consisting of perennial native and non-native herbaceous and woody biomass crops. Herbaceous crops were harvested annually in the fall while the woody crops were harvested once following five years of growth. Willow produced more total biomass than all other woody and herbaceous biomass crops across all locations. However, miscanthus biomass yield was similar to 'SX67' willow at St. Paul and Waseca, but was dependent on the cultivar of miscanthus. Prairie cordgrass cultivars were among the highest and most consistent yielding herbaceous biomass crops across locations. Miscanthus cultivars produced as much as 35 Mg DM ha-1 yr-1 biomass, but only during the final year of the study. Other herbaceous crops such as switchgrass performed well in certain locations and may offer flexibility in cropping choice. This unique information on comparative biomass yield across a diversity of perennial crops will inform the overall decision-making process in a way that reduces risk and optimizes productivity in specific environments. This study shows that several biomass crop species can be successfully grown as part of a diversified biomass cropping strategy. We tested the efficiency of three perennial biomass cropping systems to provide tangible values in the form of floral resources and plant cover that support natural enemies of soybean aphid, a devastating invasive pest in soybeans, as well as biomass for biofuel production. Biomass cropping systems were established in annual soybean production fields in an integrated crop production strategy. We found that integrating perennial biomass crops into soybean fields in a way that maximizes the amount of perennial-soybean edge enhances perennial biomass production and biofuel yield. Furthermore, integrating perennial polyculture with short-rotation coppice willow in an alley cropping configuration led to no depression in biomass yield of polyculture, despite the prevalence of shading from willow. Instead, some herbaceous species in the polyculture treatment were promoted in alley configurations including species that flowered early and late in the season. Contrary to our initial hypothesis, we did not find an overall positive effect of biomass plantings on natural enemies. Consequently, biological control of soybean aphid was not enhanced by presence of perennial biomass plantings in soybean fields. However, preliminary data suggests that parasitoids of soybean aphid in the genus Aphelinus increased during each year of the study. We evaluated the competitive interaction of switchgrass selectively bred for biomass (EG-2101 and 'Trailblazer') and wild populations with two native prairie grasses (sideoats grama and Canada wild rye) across a gradient of switchgrass density in a greenhouse. Originating from lower latitudes, cultivars flowered later and produced fewer panicles than wild switchgrass. Cultivars grew 48 - 128% more biomass and reduced sideoats grama biomass by 25 - 59% more than wild switchgrass. Effects of switchgrass cultivars on Canada wild rye were minimal compared to sideoats grama. Seed size contributed to population differences in switchgrass biomass; large-seeded populations produced up to 91 - 222% more biomass than small-seeded populations. These data suggest that breeding switchgrass for enhanced biomass yield can increase competition with some native grasses and potentially impact species diversity of native plant communities.

Publications

  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2016 Citation: Gamble*, J.D., G. Johnson, D.A. Current, D.L. Wyse, and C.C. Sheaffer. 2016. Species pairing and edge effects on biomass yield and nutrient uptake in perennial alley cropping systems. Agron. J. 108(3): 1  10.
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2016 Citation: Ogdahl*, E.J., D.S. Zamora, G.A. Johnson, G. Wyatt, D. Current, and D. Gullickson. 2016. Establishment and potential snow storage capacity of willow living snow fences in South-Central Minnesota, USA. Agroforestry Systems. Agroforest. Syst. 90: 797-809.
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2016 Citation: Fabio, Eric, T. Volk, R. Miller. M. Serapiglia, H. Gauch, K. Van Rees, R. Hangs, B. Amichev, Y. Kuzovkina, M. Labrecque, G. Johnson, R. Ewy, G. Kling, L. Smart. 2016. Genotype by environment interactions analysis of North American shrub willow yield trials confirms superior performance of triploid hybrids. GCB Bioenergy. doi: 10.1111/gcbb.12344.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2016 Citation: Volk, T., N. Sleight, G. Johnson, M. Eisenbies, L. Abrahamson. 2016. Changes in Willow Biomass Production Over Multiple Rotations. Short Rotation Woody Conference.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2016 Citation: Johnson, G.A., M.S. Wells, K. Anderson, R.W. Gesch, F. Forcella, D.L.Wyse. 2016. Field pennycress and camelina oilseed yield in a relay cropping system with soybean. ASA meetings, Phoenix, AZ.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Accepted Year Published: 2016 Citation: Plecas, M., J.A. Peterson, J.M. Kaser, J.O. Eckberg, G.A. Johnson, and G.E. Heimpel. 2016. Effects of biofuel plantings on natural enemies and biological control of soybean aphid. 13th International Symposium Ecology of Aphidophaga, Freising, Germany.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Accepted Year Published: 2016 Citation: Plecas, M., A.N. Blumke, J.A. Peterson, J.M. Kaser, J.O. Eckberg, G.A. Johnson, and G.E. Heimpel. 2016. Floral resources of bioenergy crops and pollen consumption by natural enemies of soybean aphid. 13th International Symposium Ecology of Aphidophaga, Freising, Germany.


Progress 10/01/14 to 09/30/15

Outputs
Target Audience: Nothing Reported Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? Nothing Reported How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Nothing Reported What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Nothing Reported

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? The Role of Diversified Bioenergy Cropping Systems in Enhancing Biological Control of the Soybean Aphid. This was the final year of a very successful NIFA AFRI funded project that explores the role of diversified bioenergy cropping systems in enhancing biological control of the soybean aphid. I am PI on the project along with George Heimpel (Entomology). The goal of this research is to develop an agronomically realistic platform for the production of perennial bioenergy crops while also providing an environment that leads to enhanced biological control of pests in food crops, e.g. soybean aphid. My graduate student, Jim Eckberg, successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation on this work in October. The dissertation focused on biomass growth/productivity, floral abundance and nector/pollen resources, vegetative structure, and net energy balance as well as his work with switchgrass (see below). Jim worked collaboratively with several students in George Heimpel's lab on understanding insect (primarily syrphidae) movement and feeding patterns associated with each cropping system. Consequently, Jim provided leadership in writing a paper along with entomology graduate students Julie Peterson and Mike Kaser as well as a LSRUP student that Jim mentored (Colin Borsh) exploring field abundance and performance of hoverflies on aphid prey. This paper was recently published in the Annals of the Entomology Society of America (Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 108(1): 26-34). Jim also published research focused on the spillover of tent caterpillar herbivory onto willow bioenergy crops in the Annals of Applied Biology (Ann Appl Biol. 167:178-185). Jim and I also presented components of this work at national meetings including the American Society of Agronomy, Ecological Society of America, and Entomology Society of America meetings as well as at project director meetings in Washington, D.C.. Jim is in the final stages of publishing the final chapter of his dissertation. We expect to have a manuscript submitted to the Agronomy Journal in February. Students in George Heimpel's lab have also presented results of our collaborative work at a variety of national meetings. Overall, this has been a very successful collaborative project and we expect a series of additional publications this next year, primarily around the biocontrol work. Evaluation of Switchgrass as Biofuel Crop This was the final year of a LCCMR-funded grant to explore the invasion risk posed by selective breeding and hybridization of native grasses. This work was part of Jim Eckberg's Ph.D. Dissertation and comprised a multidisciplinary group including Ruth Shaw, Mike Casler, Bob Sheafer, Craig Sheaffer, Don Wyse, Neil Anderson, and Nick Jordan. Most of the field research was conducted at the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. Jim published a manuscript in Crop Science titled 'Switchgrass population and cold-moist stratification mediate germination' based on this work (Crop Sci. 55:2746-2752). We will write two more manuscripts around system design and tradeoffs associated with multi-value biomass cropping strategies. Production and economics of perennial-based woody and herbaceous biomass crops in alley-cropping systems This was also the final year of a NC SunGrant funded project focused on the design of biomass based alley-cropping systems. Co-PI's on this proposal included Bill Berguson (NRRI), Bill Lazarus (Applied Economics), Craig Sheaffer, Dean Current (CINRAM), Diomy Zamora (Extension), Gary Wyatt (Extension) and Don Wyse. Josh Gamble, Ph.D. candidate, is the primary graduate student on the project and is focused on characterizing resource availability, carbon accumulation, and productivity in perennial biomass alley cropping systems. Josh published a paper last year focused on crop growth and productivity during the establishment year. This year, Josh submitted a paper to the Agronomy Journal titled 'Productivity and mineral uptake in perennial biomass alley cropping system in Minnesota'. This paper was recently accepted for publication. Another major objective of this project was to develop de a web-based decision support system for bioenergy cropping systems. Imbedded in the decision support system was a significant growth modeling and enterprise budgeting component. Josh and another graduate student from Applied Economics (David Smith) worked together to design a web-based application. Josh also developed and calibrated a growth model based on our data that is at the heart of the system. This new application, called The Crop Enterprise and Environmental Budgeting Tool (CE2T), can be found at (http://cropbudget.apec.umn.edu). Josh is currently writing a manuscript focused on his work with the crop growth model. Integrating winter annual cover crops into corn and soybean rotations in Minnesota This was also the final year of a Monsanto funded project to 1) evaluate winter annual oilseed yield in a relay cropping system with soybean, 2) optimize early and late termination of winter annual oilseed crop to enhance soybean and oilseed yield, 3) evaluate relay cropping corn into winter annual oilseed crops and 4) develop strategies for planting winter oilseed crops of into corn and soybean. This work is being conducting in collaboration with Scotty Wells and Don Wyse. Kevin Anderson, a Monsanto Fellowship recipient and M.S. candidate, is the graduate student on the project and is in the final stages of completing field and lab work. Kevin has taken various leadership roles including developing and writing a grant proposal to MDA to support his work and presented a lecture on cover crop strategies to farmers and other agricultural professionals at various outreach venues. Kevin will focus on writing his Dissertation this winter and I expect him to defend Spring 2016. There are currently three manuscripts being developed around this work. Long-Term Agricultural Research Network A majority of my time this past year has been spent providing leadership on a new CFANS initiative focused on the development of a Long-term Agricultural Research Network Model (LTARN) in Minnesota. The LTARN is a unique multidisciplinary project that incorporates temporal and spatial components of applied field research around food, bioproducts, fiber, and health objectives. Network nodes are located at Waseca, Lamberton, and Grand Rapids. We began analyzing data obtained from those sites over the past two years. Projects currently include characterization of soil microbial communities, cropping systems research, and nutrient management. This project involves a large group of faculty from Agronomy, Soil Water and Climate, Plant Pathology, and Biosystems Engineering. My focus is to organize multidisciplinary groups to pursue funding around these key areas of research.

Publications

  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Accepted Year Published: 2015 Citation: Eckberg, J.O., J.A. Peterson, C.P. Borsh, J.M. Kaser, G.A. Johnson, J.C. Luhman, D.W. Wyse, and G.E. Heimpel. 2015. Field abundance and performance of hoverflies (Diptera:Syrphidae) on aphid prey: implication for biological control of soybean aphid. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 108(1): 2634
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Accepted Year Published: 2015 Citation: Eckberg, J.O., M.D. Casler, G.A. Johnson, L.L. Seefeldt, K.E. Blaedow, and R.G. Shaw. 2015. Switchgrass population and cold-moist stratification mediate germination. Crop Sci. 55:2746-2752.
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Accepted Year Published: 2015 Citation: Eckberg, J.O., G.A. Johnson, R.E. Pain, D.L. Wyse, and G.E. Heimpel. 2015. Spillover of tent caterpillar herbivory onto willow bioenergy crops in an agricultural landscape. Ann Appl Biol. 167:178-185.
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Accepted Year Published: 2015 Citation: Sleight, N.J., T.A. Volk, G.A. Johnson, M.H. Eisenbies, S. Shi, E.S. Fabio. 2015. Change in yield between first and second rotations in willow biomass crops are strongly related to the level of first rotation yield. Bioenergy Res. DOI 10.1007/s12155-015-9684-0
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Under Review Year Published: 2015 Citation: Gamble, J.D., G.A. Johnson, D.A. Current, D.L. Wyse, and C.C. Sheaffer. 2015. Productivity and mineral uptake in perennial biomass alley cropping systems in Minnesota. Agron. J. Submitted.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Under Review Year Published: 2015 Citation: Ogdahl, E.J., D.S. Zamora, G.A. Johnson, G. Wyatt, D. Current, and D. Gullickson. 2015. Establishment and potential snow storage capacity of willow living snow fences in South-Central Minnesota, USA. Agroforestry Systems. Submitted.
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Accepted Year Published: 2015 Citation: Tyl, Catrin, K. Dorn, X. Zhang, J. Jungers*, J. Kaser*, R. Schendel*, B. Runck, J. Eckberg, M. Bunzel, N. Jordan, R. Stupar, D. Marks, J. Anderson, G. Johnson, C. Sheaffer, T. Schoenfuss, B. Ismail, G. Heimpel, M. Kantar, D. Wyse. 2015. Perennial grain and oilseed crops: from field to fork. Ann Rev Plant Biol. Accepted
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Accepted Year Published: 2015 Citation: Plecas, M., J.A. Peterson, J.O. Eckberg, G.A. Johnson, and G.E. Heimpel. 2015. Do floral resources of bioenergy crops improve sugar status of natural enemies of soybean aphid? ASA Meetings, Minneapolis, MN.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Accepted Year Published: 2015 Citation: Fabio, E., T. Volk, R. Miller, M. Serapiglia, H. Gauch, G. Johnson, K. Van Rees, M. Labrecque, B. Amichev, R. Hangs, J. Kuzovkina, R. Ewy, G. Kling, and L. Smart. 2015. Genotype x environment interactions in first rotation yields of improved shrub willow cultivars in North America. ASA Meetings, Minneapolis, MN
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Accepted Year Published: 2015 Citation: Johnson, G., F. Izuno, R. Denison, and J. Strock. 2015. A new approach to a long-term agricultural research network in Minnesota. ASA Meetings, Minneapolis, MN
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Accepted Year Published: 2015 Citation: Eckberg, J.O., G. Johnson, G. Heimpel, J. Kaser, M. Plecas, J. Peterson, and D. Wyse. 2015. Integrative perennial cropping systems to produce food, bioenergy, and ecosystem services. ASA Meetings, Minneapolis, MN
  • Type: Theses/Dissertations Status: Accepted Year Published: 2015 Citation: J.O. Eckberg. Invasion, bioenergy, and natural enemies: Ecological and agricultural tradeoffs in two study systems. 2015. Dissertation. University of Minnesota


Progress 10/01/13 to 09/30/14

Outputs
Target Audience: Information related to biomass and perennial cropping systems was presented to a wide range of clientele including farmers, natural resource professionals, educators and others. We also continue to have a strong working relationship with University of Minnesota Extension. Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? Nothing Reported How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Data has been presented at national professional meetings, a local government group, and to growers and NGO's at a field day held in July. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Nothing Reported

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? Agroforestry has been proposed as an ideal system for producing biomass feedstock because of the potential to satisfy a broad suite of social, economic, and environmental objectives. Alley cropping is an agroforestry practice that shows particular promise in temperate regions. To this end, field research was established across two sites in 2010 to explore productivity and economics in an alley-cropping system comprising perennial woody and herbaceous crops. The objectives of this study are to 1) determine productivity of woody and herbaceous biomass species in an alley cropping configuration, 2) establish a standardized management information system to aggregate woody and herbaceous biomass production data and refine enterprise budgets for alley-cropping and other perennial-based biomass cropping systems, and 3) integrate production and economic data into a decision support tool. Results will provide a basis for exploring the deployment of perennial-based biomass cropping systems to maximize yield potential across a range of environments while improving economic value and ecosystem services. This information will be used to improve the accuracy of economic models and provide a basis for design of an applied decision support system that can be used by farmers to make informed decisions. Preliminary results show a strong effect of woody crops on herbaceous biomass yield at one site but not the other site and may be due to differences in row orientation. We are currently analyzing and interpreting data that will allow us to better understand the effects of interspecies interactions on resource availability in the alley cropping systems. Two manuscripts are being written from this work. Mineral and carbon analysis of plant tissue samples was completed. Data analysis to evaluate cover crops in SRWC systems is almost complete and a manuscript is being written. Enterprise budgets around alley cropping systems are close to being completed. The database for storing crop productivity information is close to being completed. Standardized forms are being tested and refined. Validation of CENTURY model for the decision support tool is being expanded to include additional research sites and biomass crops. The team is continuing to meet on a regular basis to make sure objectives are met. Field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.) is proposed as a means for temporal intensification of agriculture, increasing profitability through oilseed production while providing needed cover to address soil and water quality issues. Field research was conducted across four environments in Minnesota to 1) evaluate pennycress planting date and seeding rate on pennycress and soybean [Glycine Max (L.) Merr.)] seed production and 2) determine the role of pennycress systems as a weed management tool. Results show that pennycress seeding rate had a direct effect on pennycress yield at Rosemount but not at Waseca or Lamberton locations. Moreover, the use of a companion cover crop along with pennycress further reduced pennycress seed yield at Rosemount, but not Waseca or Lamberton suggesting that water availability is a key driver in pennycress productivity. The effect of pennycress and cover crops on soybean yield was also dependent on location. At Rosemount, soybean yield was reduced when pennycress was planted ahead of soybeans both years of the study while there was no effect of pennycress on soybean yield at Waseca. Although soybean yield was reduced at Rosemount, the combined pennycress and soybean seed yield was greater. This research shows the potential for a double cropping system of pennycress-soybean to increase overall seed yield and reduce early-season weed pressure. Field research was also conducted to evaluate 26 clones of willow for establishment and biomass production in southern Minnesota. This work was conducted across two 3-year cutting cycles to determine regional fit of willow clones in Minnesota. Several poplar hybrids are also being evaluated in tight spacing arrangement to determine suitability of poplar as a biomass source in southern Minnesota. There is growing interest in using switchgrass for bioenergy and bioproduct applications in the United States. Breeding programs are developing and releasing switchgrass germplasm with improved agronomic traits to support bioindustrial feedstock requirements. These agronomically valuable traits are also shared with many highly invasive plants, and this has provoked concern that bioenergy grasses pose a risk of invasion. However, we lack basic knowledge to evaluate such risks. To inform risk assessment, we address the following questions: 1) How does establishment and growth of switchgrass vary in relation to seed source (cultivar versus remnant populations) and seed density in recently restored and remnant prairie? 2) How does switchgrass seed source and seed density influence the plant community structure of a recently restored prairie? We address these questions using separate factorial experiments: switchgrass seed addition (5 densities) in a recently restored prairie and introduction of switchgrass seeds and seedlings into an established prairie at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve (East Bethel, MN). Preliminary data suggests significant differences between switchgrass cultivars and remnant switchgrass populations in their establishment in recently restored prairie.

Publications

  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2014 Citation: Gamble, J.D., J.M. Jungers, D.L. Wyse, G.A. Johnson, J.A. Lamb, and C.C. Sheaffer. 2014. Harvest date effects on biomass yield, moisture content, mineral concentration, and mineral exports of switchgrass and native polycultures managed for bioenergy. Bioenergy Res. DOI: 10.1007/s12155-014-9555-0.
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Accepted Year Published: 2014 Citation: Eckberg, J.O., J.A. Peterson, C.P. Borsh, J.M. Kaser, G.A. Johnson, J.C. Luhman, D.W. Wyse, and G.E. Heimpel. 2014. Field abundance and performance of hoverflies (Diptera:Syrphidae) on aphid prey: implication for biological control of soybean aphid. Annals Entom. Soc. Am.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2014 Citation: Goplen, J., J. Gunsolus, C. Sheaffer, R. Becker, J. Coulter, F. Breitenbach, L. Behnken, and G. Johnson. 2014. Emergence patterns of giant ragweed in various crops and crop rotations. ASA Meetings, Long Beach, CA.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2014 Citation: Goplen J, Gunsolus JL, Sheaffer CC, Becker RL, Coulter JA, Breitenbach F, Behnken L, Johnson GA. 2014. Seed-Bank Depletion and Emergence Patterns of Giant Ragweed in Various Crop Rotations. North Central Weed Science Society meeting, Minneapolis, MN
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2014 Citation: Goplen J, Gunsolus JL, Sheaffer CC, Becker RL, Coulter JA, Breitenbach F, Behnken L, Johnson GA. 2014. Giant Ragweed Seed Production and Retention in Soybean and Field Margins. North Central Weed Science Society meeting, Minneapolis, MN
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2014 Citation: Johnson, G., J. Gamble, C. Sheaffer, D. Current, D. Zamora, and G. Wyatt. 2014. Production and economics of perennial woody and herbaceous biomass crops in alley-cropping systems. ASA meetings, Long Beach, CA
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2014 Citation: Eckberg, J., G. Johnson, G. Heimpel, J. Peterson, J. Kaser, M. Plecas, C. Sheaffer, and D. Wyse. 2014. Integrative perennial cropping systems to produce food, bioenergy, and ecosystem services. ASA meetings, Long Beach, CA


Progress 01/01/13 to 09/30/13

Outputs
Target Audience: Information related to biomass and perennial cropping systems was presented to a wide range of clientele including farmers, natural resource professionals, educators and others. We also continue to have a strong working relationship with University of Minnesota Extension, especially in southcentral and southeast Minnesota. Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? Nothing Reported How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Information related to biomass and perennial cropping systems was presented to a wide range of clientele including farmers, natural resource professionals, educators and others. We also contineu to have a strong working relationship with University of Minnesota Extension. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Nothing Reported

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? Perennial crops have been proposed as a bioindustrial feedstock because of their environmental and ecological benefits compared to annual crops. Perennial crops are unique in that they have the potential to provide multiple economic and environmental values to the farming enterprise and rural landscapes. This projects provides a baseline from which to begin expanding the scope and scale of added-value cropping systems. We are investigating various configurations of perennial woody and herbaceous crops in a way that adds multiple values. To this end, field research was conducted to a) evaluate yields of bioindustrial crops in an alley cropping agroforestry system and b) determine if competition along the tree-crop interface reduces productivity. Woody biomass crops included willow and poplar. Herbaceous crops included switchgrass, prairie cordgrass, native polyculture, and an alfalfa plus intermediate wheatgrass mixture. Woody and herbaceous crop establishment and biomass yield data was recorded annually at the tree-crop interface and within the plot. During the first two years of the study, we found that prairie cordgrass and a polyculture planting were the highest producing herbaceous crops in an alley cropping configuration. Moreover, we noted reduced herbaceous productivity between woody and herbaceous crop interface at one site. We will continue to evaluate total productivity to determine if crop competition occurs over time in an alley cropping system. We are also looking at environmental variable that may give rise to the observed reduction in herbaceous biomass yield in alley cropping configurations. A management information system is being developed for storing and analyzing crop productivity data in alley-cropping as well as monoculture biomass systems. As also evaluated cover crops in short rotation woody biomass cropping systems with the goal of reducing soil loss and improve weed management. We have explored a number of planting configurations in an attempt to provide cover to stabilize soil and provide weed control while not affecting woody biomass crop productivity. Results to date are inconclusive. We will continue to explore options for incorporating cover crops in woody cropping systems. Field research was also conducted to evaluate 26 clones of willow for establishment and biomass production in southern Minnesota. This work was conducted across two 3-year cutting cycles to determine regional fit of willow clones in Minnesota. Several poplar hybrids are also being evaluated in tight spacing arrangement to determine suitability of poplar as a biomass source in southern Minnesota. There is growing interest in using switchgrass for bioenergy and bioproduct applications in the United States. Breeding programs are developing and releasing switchgrass germplasm with improved agronomic traits to support bioindustrial feedstock requirements. These agronomically valuable traits are also shared with many highly invasive plants, and this has provoked concern that bioenergy grasses pose a risk of invasion. However, we lack basic knowledge to evaluate such risks. To inform risk assessment, we address the following questions: 1) How does establishment and growth of switchgrass vary in relation to seed source (cultivar versus remnant populations) and seed density in recently restored and remnant prairie? 2) How does switchgrass seed source and seed density influence the plant community structure of a recently restored prairie? We address these questions using separate factorial experiments: switchgrass seed addition (5 densities) in a recently restored prairie and introduction of switchgrass seeds and seedlings into an established prairie at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve (East Bethel, MN). Preliminary data suggests significant differences between switchgrass cultivars and remnant switchgrass populations in their establishment in recently restored prairie.

Publications

  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Smith, D., D. Current, J. Gamble, G. Johnson, D. Zamora. 2013. Production and economics of perennial-based woody and herbaceous biomass crops including alley-cropping systems. Presented at the 13th North American Agroforestry Conference.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Eckberg, J., G. Johnson, R. Shaw, M. Casler, C. Sheaffer, N. Jordan, N. Anderson, S. Flint, R. Schafer, and D. Wyse. 2013. Ecological interactions differ for switchgrass cultivars and wild populations. Ecological Society of America. Minneapolis, MN.
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Johnson, G.A., D.L. Wyse, C.C. Sheaffer. 2013. Yield of perennial herbaceous and woody biomass crops over time across three locations. Biomass Bioenergy 58:267-274.
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Awaiting Publication Year Published: 2013 Citation: Gamble, J.D., G. Johnson, C. Sheaffer, D. Current, and D. Wyse. 2013. Establishment and Early Productivity of Perennial Biomass Cropping Systems in Minnesota, U.S.A. Agroforest Syst. In Press.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Volk, T., B. Liu, J. Caputo, E. Fabio, L. Abrahamson, J. Kuzovkina, R. Miller, L. Smart, and G. Johnson. 2013. Willow biomass crop feedstock development. SunGrant Feedstock Partnership Meeting.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Eckberg, J., G. Johnson, R. Shaw, M. Casler, C. Sheaffer, K. Blaedow, N. Jordan, N. Anderson, S. Flint, R. Schafer, and D. Wyse. 2013. Ecological interactions differ for switchgrass cultivars and wild populations. Switchgrass Conference II. Madison, WI.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Gamble, J., G. Johnson, C. Sheaffer, D. Current, and D. Wyse. 2013. Establishment and early productivity of perennial biomass alley cropping systems in Minnesota, USA. Presented at the 13th North American Agroforestry Conference.


Progress 01/01/12 to 12/31/12

Outputs
OUTPUTS: Perennial crops have been proposed as a bioindustrial feedstock because of their environmental and ecological benefits compared to annual crops. A field study was recently completed to quantify biomass yield across a range of perennial herbaceous and woody crops over time and environments. Field experiments were conducted at three locations in Minnesota from 2006-2011 with treatments consisting of perennial native and non-native herbaceous and woody biomass crops. Herbaceous crops were harvested annually in the fall while the woody crops were harvested once following five years of growth. In another study, alley cropping (one type of agroforestry practice) shows promise for the sustainable production of biomass for bioproducts in temperate regions. However, little is known about the performance of dedicated woody and herbaceous bioenergy crops in alley cropping systems in the North Central Region of the United States. For example, improper species selection and crop spatial arrangement in an alley cropping system can result in poor crop establishment and reduced productivity. Field research was conducted to a) evaluate establishment and yields of bioenergy crops in an alley cropping agroforestry system and b) determine if competition along the tree-crop interface reduces productivity. Woody biomass crops included willow and poplar. Herbaceous crops included switchgrass, prairie cordgrass, native polyculture, and an alfalfa plus intermediate wheatgrass mixture. Woody and herbaceous crop establishment and biomass yield data was recorded annually at the tree-crop interface and within the plot. As part of our work, we will also evaluate cover crops in short rotation woody biomass cropping systems with the goal of reducing soil loss and improve weed management. Field research was also conducted to evaluate 26 clones of willow for establishment and biomass production in southern Minnesota. This work was conducted across two 3-year cutting cycles. Several poplar hybrids are also being evaluated in tight spacing arrangement to determine suitability of poplar as a biomass source in southern Minnesota. Information related to biomass and perennial cropping systems was presented to a wide range of clientele including farmers, natural resource professionals, educators and others. We also continue to have a strong working relationship with University of Minnesota Extension, especially in SE and SC Minnesota. PARTICIPANTS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. TARGET AUDIENCES: Conducted field tours and indoor seminars for farmers, state government staff, consultants, and other agricultural professionals related to biomass and perennial cropping systems. We also continue to have a strong working relationship with University of Minnesota Extension, primarily through the development and implementation of outreach activities. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
A field study was recently completed to quantify biomass yield across a range of perennial herbaceous and woody crops over time and environments. When comparing the cumulative yield of herbaceous and woody biomass crops, results show that willow produced more biomass than all other woody and herbaceous biomass crops. However, miscanthus biomass yield was similar to willow at St. Paul and Waseca, but was dependent on the cultivar of miscanthus. Although willow produced more biomass than most other crops in this study, it is important to take into account the effect of harvest frequency on the economics of these systems. For the perennial herbaceous crops, Red River and Aureomarginata prairie cordgrass were the most consistent and among the highest yielding herbaceous biomass crops across locations and years. Both M. x giganteus and Goliath miscanthus produced the most biomass by the end of the study period compared to other crops. Native grass crops that dominated tallgrass prairie environments, such as big bluestem, switchgrass, and indiangrass, are examples of potentially high-yielding native crops that can be established from seed. Polycultures consisting of mixtures of grass species or mixtures of grass, forbs, and legume species may offer an alternative to monoculture. The polyculture treatment showed an upward trend in yield over years, except at the Lamberton. Overall, our work shows that several biomass crop species can be successfully grown as part of a diversified biomass cropping enterprise. However, there were differences in biomass yield among and between locations that must be part of the overall decision-making process to reduce risk and optimize productivity over time. In the alley-cropping experiments, we found that prairie cordgrass and a polyculture planting were the highest producing herbaceous crops in an alley cropping configuration. Moreover, there was no competition between woody and herbaceous crops along the tree-crop interface. However, these results are based on data from the first two years of the study. We will continue this work to evaluate total productivity over the next two years to determine if crop competition occurs over time in an alley cropping system.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 01/01/11 to 12/31/11

Outputs
OUTPUTS: Research that provides farmers with proven agronomic strategies is critical to establishing future production systems that support bioindustrial sectors. This project will provide a baseline from which to begin expanding the scope and scale of added-value cropping systems work and will be used to develop regional guidelines for optimizing the production of biomass crops. An understanding of how best to optimize production strategies will ultimately reduce risk to the farmer, industry, and rural communities. However, we must also be aware of how these production systems impact or possibly provide a solution for environment issues now and in the future. Objective 1: Evaluate new and existing varieties of woody and herbaceous plant material across a range of environments. We are currently conducting small plot evaluation trials to identify promising willow and poplar lines developed through breeding programs at SUNY /Syracuse and the UofM Natural Resources Research Institute. A broad array of promising new perennial herbaceous biomass species are also being evaluated at multiple locations across the state. Information from these trials will allow us to identify varieties and species that are best adapted for southern Minnesota. This information will also help guide breeders as they start new programs aimed at developing improved varieties for this area. Objective 2: Develop best management practices for production of perennial woody and herbaceous biomass crops. A combination of tactics including cover crops, biomass crop variety, and herbicides will be used to develop integrated approaches to the design of biomass cropping systems. Fall and spring-seeded cover crops will be evaluated across a range of annual and perennial species. We will also conduct fertility trials to refine nitrogen recommendations in woody biomass species that maximize productivity while reducing impact on the environment. Objective 3: Evaluate environmental values associated with perennial biomass cropping systems. We will characterize crop productivity, water quality, and hydrologic buffering across woody and herbaceous cropping systems representing a range of functional groups. We are collaborating with a larger group to explore biomass crop growth and development in a phytoremediation application where the organic fraction of municipal solid waste is applied. The goal is to expand the context of this study to include a detailed assessment of nutrient uptake and sequestration in these systems across different soil environments. Numerous presentations have been given to a wide range of clientele including farmers, natural resource professionals, and others around information related to biomass cropping systems. We also continue to have a strong working relationship with Extension programs across the state. PARTICIPANTS: Dr. Tim Volk, SUNY/Syracuse, College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Provided new willow clones for inclusion in yield trials as well as technical and scientific collaboration. Bill Berguson, Project Director, Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota. Provided new poplar clones for inclusion in yield trials as well as technical and scientific collaboration. Drs. Craig Sheaffer and Don Wyse. Provided perennial plant species for inclusion in herbaceous biomass yield trials as well as technical and scientific support. Collaborator on many other projects related to biomass productivity. TARGET AUDIENCES: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
Significant differences in productivity were noted between hybrid willow and poplar clones in small plot replicated trials. This was also the case for many of the perennial herbaceous crops grown in replicated plots across three locations in southern Minnesota. Data will be published in 2012. These results will be used as a basis for selecting the best producing woody and herbaceous biomass crop clones for this ecoregion. Results have also been shared with producers, consultants, government agency personnel, and private businesses through field day presentations. These presentations have increased knowledge of the decision maker. This is the first year of our project, so we expect more results to be available next year around topics related to cover crops and biomass crop growth in riparian areas.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 01/01/10 to 12/31/10

Outputs
OUTPUTS: Project 1: Overcoming Barriers to Facilitate the Commercialization of Willow Biomass Crops as a Feedstock for Biofuels, Bioenergy and Bioproducts. Output: This is a large project that is being supported through the USDA-DOE Biomass Research and Development Initiative and involves collaborators from SUNY Syracuse as well as industry partners. Our goal is to reduce costs and increase the level of knowledge about willow biomass crop management so that they become part of the mix of woody biomass feedstocks that are used in the production of bioproducts and bioenergy. Specifically, I am conducting three experiments at the SROC in support of the larger project; namely, increasing yields through genetic improvement, reducing establishment costs by reducing planting density, and expanding the harvest window for willow biomass crops. Project 2. Evaluation of Poplar clones for biomass. Output: I am working closely with a group of forestry scientists at the Natural Resources Research Institute to evaluate genetics and productivity of new and existing hybrid poplar clones when grown in southern Minnesota. Our goal is to find the best performing hybrid poplar for bioenergy or production of various bioproducts in southern Minnesota. Field evaluations of new and existing hybrid poplars are ongoing. Results of all three research projects are being shared with stakeholders through Extension sponsored events and through invited presentations at regional meetings. Project 3. Production and Economics of perennial-based woody and herbaceous biomass crops under alley-cropping systems. Output: Our work will explore ways that perennial-based biomass cropping systems can be deployed in order to maximize yield potential across a range of environments while providing key environmental benefits. We will focus our efforts on finding the optimal combination of woody and herbaceous species in an alley cropping design which will lead to greater overall productivity and profitability. We will also be evaluating a range of cover crops that may be integrated into a woody biomass system to not only stabilize the soil, but also provide weed suppression. PARTICIPANTS: Collaborators: Craig Sheaffer - UofMN, Dept. Agronomy and Plant Genetics Ulrike Tschirner - UofMN, Dept. Bioproducts and Biosystems Eng. Donald Wyse - UofMN, Dept. Agronomy and Plant Genetics Hans Jung - USDA ARS Dean Current - UofMN, CINRAM Sudipto Banerjee - UofMN, Division of Biostatistics Bill Berguson - UofMN, NRRI Tim Volk - SUNY Syracuse Lawrence Smart - SUNY Syracuse Lawrence P. Abrahamson - SUNY Syracuse TARGET AUDIENCES: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
Research Project 1. Studies include a willow clone trial in support of genetic improvement, a harvest timing trial, and a planting density experiment. The first two objectives are complete and the third objective will be finished next fall. I am current gathering data from other location and will be writing a manuscript summarizing results from the clone evaluation trial as well as a paper dealing with harvest timing issues. The other research projects are in the initial establishment phase but anticipate results withing two years.

Publications

  • Thelemann, R., G.A. Johnson, C. Sheaffer, S. Banerjee, H. Cai, and D. Wyse. 2010. The effect of landscape position on biomass crop yield. Agron. J. 102:513-522.


Progress 01/01/09 to 12/31/09

Outputs
OUTPUTS: Research Project 1: Maximizing Production of Fiber, Fermentable Sugars, and Energy by Matching Biomass Species to Landscape Position. Output: The first experiment was conducted on 16 ha at the University of Minnesota's Agricultural Ecology Research Farm. Several perennial biomass crops were established on a typical soil catena to evaluate the effect of landscape position and associated soil, terrain, and water attributes on biomass production. Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), corn (Zea mays L.), willow (Salix spp.), cottonwood (Populus deltoides), poplar (Populus maximowiczii x P. nigra), and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) were planted across seven landscape positions. Soil N, P, K, and Profile Darkness Index (PDI) were the measured soil attributes. Specific catchment and compound terrain index were the terrain attributes. The experiment comprises six crops at each landscape position. Based on this design, we will use a Bayesian hierarchical framework to analyze data using a co-regionalized, multi-resolution, spatially-varying statistical model. A second experiment was conducted on an adjacent site to examine the effect of growth environment on biomass yield, cellulosic ethanol traits, and paper pulp fiber characteristics of alfalfa stems. Landscape position (summit and mild slope), season of harvest, and multiple years provided environmental variation. Alfalfa stem samples were analyzed for cell wall carbohydrate and lignin concentration. Stems were also analyzed for relevant cellulosic ethanol and paper production traits. Both of these experiments are funded through the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment. Research Project 2: Overcoming Barriers to Facilitate the Commercialization of Willow Biomass Crops as a Feedstock for Biofuels, Bioenergy and Bioproducts. Output: This is a large project that is being supported through the USDA-DOE Biomass Research and Development Initiative and involves collaborators from SUNY Syracuse as well as industry partners. Our goal is to reduce costs and increase the level of knowledge about willow biomass crop management so that they become part of the mix of woody biomass feedstocks that are used in the production of bioproducts and bioenergy. Specifically, I am conducting three experiments at the SROC in support of the larger project; namely, increasing yields through genetic improvement, reducing establishment costs by reducing planting density, and expanding the harvest window for willow biomass crops. Research Project 3. Evaluation of Poplar clones for biomass. Output: I am working closely with a group of forestry scientists at the Natural Resources Research Institute to evaluate genetics and productivity of new and existing hybrid poplar clones when grown in southern Minnesota. Our goal is to find the best performing hybrid poplar for bioenergy or production of various bioproducts in southern Minnesota. Field evaluations of new and existing hybrid poplars are ongoing. Results of all three research projects are being shared with stakeholders through Extension sponsored events and through invited presentations at regional meetings. PARTICIPANTS: Collaborators: Craig Sheaffer - UofMN, Dept. Agronomy and Plant Genetics Ulrike Tschirner - UofMN, Dept. Bioproducts and Biosystems Eng. Donald Wyse - UofMN, Dept. Agronomy and Plant Genetics Hans Jung - USDA ARS Dean Current - UofMN, CINRAM Sudipto Banerjee - UofMN, Division of Biostatistics Bill Berguson - UofMN, NRRI Tim Volk - SUNY Syracuse Lawrence Smart - SUNY Syracuse Lawrence P. Abrahamson - SUNY Syracuse TARGET AUDIENCES: Results of all three research projects are being shared with stakeholders through Extension sponsored events and through invited presentations at regional meetings. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
Research Project 1: Corn grain and stover yield was lowest in depositional and flat areas that retain water for longer periods of time and highest on well drained summit positions. Corn stover yield was positively correlated to N, PDI, SpecCat, and CTI while corn grain yield was not correlated to any of the soil or terrain attributes tested. Conversely, willow productivity was among the highest at the depositional position and lowest at the summit position. For SX67 willow, growth was positively correlated to SpecCat while 9882 willow growth was negatively correlated to PDI and CTI. Alfalfa and poplar productivity was highest at a site characterized by a relatively steep slope with potentially erosive soils. This research shows that biomass crop productivity is spatially variable and influenced by several hillslope processes. Data was collected over two years characterized by above normal precipitation. Therefore, more research is needed to characterize crop productivity across diverse climate conditions. This study provides a first step in developing cropping systems that ultimately provide a knowledge-based approach to crop selection and placement on the landscape with the goal of functional optimization. The methodology presented should be tested on several other landscapes, as it may have the potential to help answer plant growth rate, landscape, and other agronomic questions for crops within and outside of the biomass production scope. Results of the second experiment indicate that landscape position was not a significant source of variation for yield or any biomass quality trait. Yields varied among harvests in 2005 and 2006. All cell wall, conversion test, and paper production traits exhibited year by harvest interactions with no clear pattern. Total carbohydrates ranged from 440 to 531 g kg-1 DM while lignin ranged from 113 to 161 g kg-1 DM. Release of cell wall sugars by the conversion test ranged widely (419 to 962 g kg-1 DM). Fiber traits were similarly variable with length ranging from 1.24 to 1.59 mm and fines content varying from 15.2 to 21.9%. Utilizing alfalfa biomass for cellulosic ethanol and paper pulp production will involve dealing with significant feedstock quality variation due to growth environment. Research Project 2. Willow biomass yield will be measured this winter on all three studies. These studies include a willow clone trial in support of genetic improvement, a planting density experiment, and a harvest timing trial. therefore, results will not be available until the next reporting period.

Publications

  • Rock, K., R. Thelemann, H. Jung, U. Tschirner, C. Sheaffer, and G. Johnson. 2009. Variation due to growth environment in alfalfa yield cellulosic ethanol traits, and paper pulp characteristics. BioEnergy Res. 2(3):79-89.


Progress 01/01/08 to 12/31/08

Outputs
OUTPUTS: 1. Maximizing Production of Fiber, Fermentable Sugars, and Energy by Matching Biomass Species to Landscape Position. For profitable bioenergy and bioproduct production, we need to understand how to optimize crop placement in a way that maximizes overall productivity, optimizes quality traits, and increases efficiency. Several perennial biomass crops were established on a typical soil catena in south-central Minnesota to evaluate the effect of landscape position and associated soil, terrain, and water attributes on biomass production. The objective of this research is to determine to effect of landscape position on the biomass yield of herbaceous and woody biomass crops. Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), corn (Zea mays L.), willow (Salix spp.), cottonwood (Populus deltoides), poplar (Populus maximowiczii x P. nigra), and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) were planted on seven landscape positions in 2005 and biomass production was recorded in 2006 and 2007. Soil N, P, K, and Profile Darkness Index (PDI) were the soil attributes observed an analyzed for effects on biomass production. Specific catchment and compound terrain index were the terrain attributes analyzed for effects on biomass production. The experimental design comprises four replicates of six crops (subplots) at each landscape position (main plots). Based on this design, we will use a Bayesian hierarchical framework to analyze data using a co-regionalized, multi-resolution, spatially-varying statistical model. This research is funded through the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment. 2. Overcoming Barriers to Facilitate the Commercialization of Willow Biomass Crops as a Feedstock for Biofuels, Bioenergy and Bioproducts. This is a large project that is being supported through the USDA-DOE Biomass Research and Development Initiative through 2009 and involves collaborators from SUNY Syracuse as well as industry partners. Our goal is to reduce costs and increase the level of knowledge about willow biomass crop management so that they become part of the mix of woody biomass feedstocks that are used in the production of bioproducts and bioenergy. Specifically, I am conducting three experiments at the SROC in support of the larger project; namely, increasing yields through genetic improvement, reducing establishment costs by reducing planting density, and expanding the harvest window for willow biomass crops. 3. Evaluation of Poplar clones for biomass. I am working closely with a group of forestry scientists at the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) in Duluth to evaluate genetics and productivity of new and existing hybrid poplar clones when grown in southern Minnesota. Our goal is similar to that of the willow project; we are interested in finding the best performing hybrid poplar for bioenergy or production of various bioproducts in southern Minnesota. Field evaluations of new and existing hybrid poplars are ongoing. Most of the trials were planted in 2006 or 2007. We are also working in an existing plantation near St. Peter to evaluate growth and yield of hybrid poplar under production scales. PARTICIPANTS: Collaborators: Craig Sheaffer - UofMN, Dept. Agronomy and Plant Genetics Ulrike Tschirner - UofMN, Dept. Bioproducts and Biosystems Eng. Donald Wyse - UofMN, Dept. Agronomy and Plant Genetics Hans Jung - USDA ARS Dean Current - UofMN, CINRAM Sudipto Banerjee - UofMN, Division of Biostatistics Bill Berguson - UofMN, NRRI Tim Volk - SUNY Syracuse Lawrence Smart - SUNY Syracuse Lawrence P. Abrahamson - SUNY Syracuse TARGET AUDIENCES: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
This is the first reporting year on this new project, so outcomes are not yet fully realized. 1. To date, we are in the process of analyzing data to determine the effect of landscape position on biomass yield of herbaceous and woody biomass crops. Preliminary results indicate that significant differences in biomass accumulation between species within single sites, and within single species grown at different sites. Analysis of soil and terrain attributes revealed that different attributes were significantly related to biomass yield for each species. We are also evaluating crop growth rate over time and space as influenced by soil and terrain attributes. Bayesian statistical methods were used to construct confidence intervals determining the effects of soil, terrain, time and space on the growth rate of each species, and to create predictive surfaces of plant growth rate using the combined effects of time, space, and soil/terrain attributes. Results show that the Bayesian methods presented are an effective framework for analyzing plant growth and the response of biomass crops to select environmental stresses present at different landscape positions. The methodology presented should be tested on several other landscapes, as it may have the potential to help answer plant growth rate, landscape, and other agronomic questions for crops within and outside of the biomass production scope. 2. We are conducting three experiments at the SROC in support of the larger project; namely, increasing yields through genetic improvement, reducing establishment costs by reducing planting density, and expanding the harvest window for willow biomass crops. Field research has been established, but will not be complete until fall 2009. We also established field trials to investigate genetic variability in poplar hybrid clones.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period