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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Plant Science

First Advisor

Vance D. Owens


Biomass is a renewable resource that offers many advantages to a successful perennial grass-based bioenergy model. Many of today’s economic problems have led scientists and farmers to search for new crops that increase agricultural sustainability and profitability. The use of bioenergy crops such as switchgrass and prairie cordgrass will help to meet future energy and biomass needs through the process of converting crop biomass into bioenergy sources with less environmental damage. Prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata Link.) is a high yielding warm season grass that grows naturally on poorly drained marginal land throughout the United States. For its morphological characteristics and biomass production, it is being considered for bio-fuel potential. Red River prairie cordgrass (RR-PCG) and Atkins prairie cordgrass (AT-PCG) are part of a developed germplasm collection in the Midwest (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas). Both varieties are being considered in investigations as possible biomass crops. Overall objectives for this investigation were to evaluate (1) biomass production capability of RR-PCG, South Dakota prairie cordgrass (SD-PCG), Illinois prairie cordgrass (IL-PCG), Cave-in-Rock switchgrass (CIR-SWG), and Sunburst switchgrass (SB-SWG) at lower and upper backslope sites in South Dakota from 2008 through 2011, North Dakota from 2008-2010, and Illinois in 2010, (2) yield production, tiller density, tiller weight, morphological traits such as biomass distribution in leaf sheath, and internode with measures of length and weight under four N rates (0, 56, 112, and 168 kg ha-1 of N), and below-ground material to a depth of 25 cm in South Dakota and Kansas. The results indicated that levels of N applied had influenced the amount of biomass that is being produced along with the number of tillers (either vegetative or reproductive material). Interestingly, prairie cordgrass yielded better at 56 kg ha-1 of N than at the highest amount of N applied. This could indicate that very little N is required to optimize yield and biomass in general. Moreover, prairie cordgrass production of adequate yields may depend more on location and environmental factors such as moisture and total rainfall. Prairie cordgrass should be analyzed at more locations in order to get a better understanding of its biomass production; morphological characteristics; biomass partition among leaf sheath, and internode; and quality characteristics.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Energy crops


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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