Fertilizer Requirements for Native Perennial Plants Harvested for Biomass

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Start Date: 2008

Principal Investigator: Craig Sheaffer

Organization: University of Minnesota, Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics

Status: Complete

Background Information:

Although corn will likely continue to be the most important energy crop, it cannot supply all the future bioenergy (ethanol) needs in the U.S. The federal government is investing heavily in cellulosic ethanol technology, and native perennial plants will be in demand as a dedicated biomass source. Therefore, basic information on practices such as soil fertilization is urgently needed to ensure profitable production.

Economically and environmentally sound fertilizer recommendations are lacking for native grasses and native plant mixtures proposed for biomass cropping systems. The recommendations currently used by the University of Minnesota fall into a broad category of “pasture plantings” that includes fertilization of cool-season grasses used for hay and pasture.

While native plants are considered adaptable to marginal, low-fertility land when used for no-harvest conservation programs like the Conservation Reserve Program, their yield and persistence in the biomass removal system will be compromised without consideration of soil fertility.

Key Findings:

©2017 Agricultural Fertilizer Research and Education Council of Minnesota