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February 04, 2006


Rod Adams

What are some of the effects on the soil when harvesting switchgrass? Can it keep growing year after year if intensively harvested?



once it's established in a field, it can be harvested as a cash crop, either annually or semiannually, for 10 years or more before replanting is needed.


Could ahigh sugar content switch grass be bio-engineered?

Jim from The Energy Blog

BOG - In the second resource that I listed there is a discussion of some work being done to breed higher yielding strains of swithgrass. As I understand the paper, work has started on bio-engineering, but it is in the early stages and research is needed to understand the DNA, genetics (?) of switchgrass before any actual bio-engineering can begin. I believe that attempts to improve the sugar content could be made once these parameters are understood. - I am not the one to ask about bio-engineering or what can be done with it. This program has had relatively low funding for the past ~6 years so not much progress has been made.

Jay Custin

While I certainly see the advantages of using a harvested crop for fuel sources as opposed to fossil fuels, I am curious on how the net profit per acre compares to other more problematic crops such as tobacco. I have no clue on what all the costs, etc. are in crop production, but I am curious if there would be sufficient incentive for the average tobacco farmer to convert (incrementally or outright) from that crop to switchgrass. Obviously the latter has the benefit of producing crops that not only reduce the farmer's dependence on tobacco (IMO a good thing) but also might make widespread of this E85 fuel feasible. I have to laugh at the blanket advertising of E85 on television in the last few weeks seeing as I have never seen an E85 station in NC or VA.

My other thought is how effectively switchgrass could be used to suppliment hog and poulty (maybe even cattle) farms while helping to reduce the contamination of the surrounding estuaries.


to find a sation near you that sells ethanol go to www.e85fuel.com/index.php
in NC charlotte has three,shelby has two,statesville has one,and arlington VA has one. ethanol will become more abundant in the future. there are alot of distillers being built they take a long as a year to build.

Castor Oil

From what I read here, switchgrass appears to be perhaps the most attractive feedstock for ethanol production (1) it is not used as a edible crop while sugarcane/corn etc are used as edible crops, (2) its yield appears to be higher per acre than for many other ethanol feedstock, and (3) it appears that it could be energy positive, though I know more work needs to be done on this aspect

What I am wondering is, why is the US govt clamouring about ethanol from corn while I hear very little about switchgrass? Perhaps I will hear more about it from now one, hopefully

Castor, Biodiesel from Algae


The problem is that fuel farming with chemical agriculture destroys the soil as a carbon sink, vastly increasing the severity of global climate change.

Except for fuel from algae in solar collectors, I think it's a winning techology.

Brian McCreary

Jim,Brian here. I was thinking about the farming here in N. Florida. Cotton, soy beans and peanuts. I was wondering if the foliage from these plants would make good cellulosic methanol. Most of it seems to go to waste.Another thing I don't understand, they take used cooking oil and turn into bio-diesel when adding alcohol and lye. Why couldn't you cook the whole plant and get the oil and the methanol already mixed ? Thanks,Brian

Debbie Anglin

For all those interested in more information on Switchgrass: The Governor of Oklahoma will host GROW: the Governor's Conference on Biofuels, October 16-17, 2007 in Oklahoma City. Switchgrass and other native Oklahoma prairie grasses show great potential for alternative fuels. James woolsey, former director of the CIA, will be a keynote speaker at this year's conference. Registration is only $45. For more information or registration, visit www.GrowOK.com


If switchgrass could serve as a feedstock for Butanol production, then they'd really have something. Also, planting a mixture of native prairie grasses probably makes more sense that using monoculture. By planting a nitrogen fixing grass along with the switchgrass, they could reduce or eliminate fertilizer inputs.


Correction: I should have said: "By sowing a nitrogen fixing plant, of some kind, along with the switchgrass..." Not being a farmer, I don't know if there are nitrogen fixing species of Grass. Clover, vetch, and legumes in general all fix atmospheric nitrogen, but I'm not sure if they fall into the category of grasses. Perhaps someone more knowledgable could comment on native prairie plants that fix nitrogen.


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Well now, I was searching for blogs on fitness or health when i ran across this post. although not exactly what I was expecting I will give it ****.

renewable sources

Switchgrass has already been used successfully with coal in a coal burning plant to produce electricity. Adding switchgrass means less coal is burned to produce the same energy. This dramatically reduces emissions, especially sulfur which is one of the elements responsible for acid rain.

Emissions Fugitive

Very smart ideas from this post. It contains a lot of valuable information which i really appreciate and adore. Thanks for letting me leave my comments here. :)

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