Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Agronomy, Horticulture, and Plant Science

First Advisor

Arvid Boe


Big Bluestem, Biomass, Habitat, Little Bluestem, Roadsides, Switchgrass


Native grasses and forbs are being considered for planting along South Dakota roadsides to create a favorable habitat for wildlife while also allowing landowners a source of forage and biomass production. South Dakota is host to 54,900 hectares (145,000 acres) of right-of-way that are managed by the South Dakota Department of Transportation. Approximately 80% of the roadsides are used by landowners for hay production. Species diversity and potential biomass yield were determined for the current roadside vegetation along four transects (SD Highways 14, 34 and 50) and SD I- 29 between White, SD and Elk Point, SD. Smooth bromegrass (Bromus inermis) was dominant in 80% of the samples. Height, survival and flower production are important for deciding species to use for improving pollinator habitat from roadside seed mixes. Forb and native grass establishment characteristics were determined in smooth bromegrass sod at two locations in eastern South Dakota. Hoary vervain (Verbena stricta) was the tallest and had the highest survival rate of six forb species tested. Little bluestem (Schizaryium scoparium) has played an important role in South Dakota’s native prairie and planted grassland diversity because of its capacity to grow on coarse-textured soils in semi-arid climates (Daubenmire, 1978). To compare its biomass production and morphological characteristics to those of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) over time, effects of row spacing and plant density on biomass production were determined for three cultivars of little bluestem and one switchgrass cultivar. Little bluestem and switchgrass had similar biomass yields in the year after establishment, but little bluestem produced higher yields than switchgrass in the third and subsequent years after establishment, indicating that it was suitable for long-term biomass production in eastern South Dakota.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Roadside plants -- South Dakota.
Andropogon furcatus.
Biomass energy.
Habitat (Ecology) -- South Dakota.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 68-69)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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