Biomass production of 'Alamo' switchgrass in response to nitrogen, phosphorus, and row spacing
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Management practices for biomass production of bioenergy grasses may differ from management for forage. Our objective was to determine the yield and stand responses of 'Alamo' switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) to N and P fertilization as affected by row spacing. A combination of five rates each of N and P were applied to plots during 1992 to 1998 at Stephenville, TX and 1993 to 1995 at Beeville, TX. Three row-spacing treatments were applied as subplots. Biomass production was determined each year with a single harvest in late summer. Tiller density and tiller mass were measured during 1993 to 1996 at Stephenville. Biomass production was not influenced by the addition of P. Biomass production response to N at Beeville was greater in narrow rows than wide rows during the establishment year only. Biomass production responses to N were quadratic in 5 of 7 yr at Stephenville and linear at Beeville. A maximum yield of 22.5 Mg ha-1 occurred during 1995 at Stephenville at 168 kg N ha-1 Lodging occurred at both locations but only at the 224 kg N ha-1 rate. Tiller density and mass increased as row width increased. Tiller mass also increased with increasing N fertility at Stephenville. This response was more important in determining biomass production than was tiller density. Average biomass production at 168 kg N ha-1 yr-1 was 14.5 and 10.7 Mg ha-1 yr-1 at Stephenville and Beeville, respectively. Biomass production without applied N tended to decline over the years. Our data indicated that switchgrass biomass production is sustainable at Stephenville only with the application of at least 168 kg N ha-1 yr-1 but P application and row spacing are not crucial.