Title

Biomass Yield From Planted Mixtures and Monocultures of Native Prairie Vegetation Across a Heterogeneous Farm Landscape

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-2014

Abstract

Farms in the glaciated tallgrass prairie region of North America are topographically heterogeneous with wide-ranging soil quality. This environmental heterogeneity may affect choice and placement of species planted for biomass production. We designed replicated experiments and monitored farm-scale production to evaluate the effects of landscape position, vegetation type, and year on yields of monocultures and mixtures. Research was conducted on a 262-ha South Dakota working farm where cropland had been replanted with a variety of native grassland types having biofuel feedstock potential. Vegetation type (diverse mixture or switchgrass [Panicum virgatum L.] monoculture) and year interacted to influence yield in replicated experiments (p < 0.10). Mean annual switchgrass yield above a stubble height of 10 cm was 9.3 Mg ha−1 in two replicated experiments, and was greater than yield of mixtures (7.3 Mg ha−1) in 6 of 7 year × vegetation type combinations. Landscape position interacted with year and vegetation type to influence yield (p < 0.10). Variability was generally greatest at the lowest landscape position. On the farm's larger fields (0.4–46 ha), three-year mean yields of switchgrass monocultures cut at ground level (12.7 Mg ha−1) were also greater than yields of mixtures (9.7 Mg ha−1) but both were less than prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata Link) monoculture yield (13.2 Mg ha−1) in a restored wetland. A combination of prairie monocultures and mixtures, strategically placed across a farm landscape, could offer a balance of productivity, ecosystem services, and income with potential as biofuel feedstock and other income streams (hay, seed, beef).

Publication Title

Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment

Volume

186

First Page

148

Last Page

159

DOI of Published Version

10.1016/j.agee.2014.01.027

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