Switchgrass pp 113-127 | Cite as

Switchgrass Harvest and Storage

  • Rob MitchellEmail author
  • Marty Schmer
Part of the Green Energy and Technology book series (GREEN)


The feedstock characteristics of the conversion platform will influence the optimal harvest and post harvest management practices for switchgrass. However, many of the harvest management practices are tied to plant phenology and will be similar across platforms. Proper harvest and storage of switchgrass will help provide a consistent and high-quality feedstock to the biorefinery. Bioenergy-specific switchgrass strains are high-yielding and in most cases can be harvested and baled with commercially available haying equipment. Many options are available for packaging switchgrass for storage and transportation, but large round bales or large rectangular bales are the most readily available and are in use on farms. Large round bales tend to have less storage losses than large rectangular bales when stored outside, but rectangular bales tend to be easier to handle and load a truck for transport without road width restrictions. Although there is limited large-scale experience with harvesting and storing switchgrass for bioenergy, extensive research, as well as a history of harvesting hay crops for livestock in many agroecoregions, makes harvesting and preserving switchgrass for bioenergy feasible at the landscape scale.


Soil Organic Carbon Vegetative Filter Strip Tiller Density Storage Loss Round Bale 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    Vogel KP (2004) Switchgrass. In: Moser LE, Burson BL, Sollenberger LE (eds) Warm-season (C4) Grasses. ASA-CSSA-SSSA, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Vogel KP, Sarath G, Saathoff A, Mitchell R (2011) Switchgrass. In: Halford N, Karp A (eds) Energy Crops. The Royal Society of Chemistry, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Stubbendieck JL, Hatch SL, Butterfield CH (1997) North American Range Plants, 5th edn. University of Nebraska Press, LincolnGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Sanderson MA, Jones RM, McFarland MJ, Stroup J, Reed RL, Muir JP (2001) Nutrient movement and removal in a switchgrass biomass-filter strip system treated with dairy manure. J Environ Qual 30:210–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Mitchell RB, Moore KJ, Moser LE, Fritz JO, Redfearn DD (1997) Predicting developmental morphology in switchgrass and big bluestem. Agron J 89:827–832CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Dahl BE, Hyder DN (1977) Developmental morphology and management implications. In: Sosebee RE (ed) Rangeland plant physiology. Society for Range Management, Denver, pp 257–290Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Mitchell RB, Moser LE, Moore KJ, Redfearn DD (1998) Tiller demographics and leaf area index of four perennial pasture grasses. Agron J 90:47–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Mitchell RB, Vogel KP, Schmer MR, Pennington D (2010) Switchgrass for biofuel production. Accessed 30 Nov 2011
  9. 9.
    Mitchell RB, Moser LE (2000) Developmental morphology and tiller dynamics of warm-season grass swards. pp 47–64. In: K.J. Moore and B.E. Anderson (eds), Native warm-season grasses: research trends and issues. CSSA Spec. Publ. 28, CSSA/ASA, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Nelson CJ, Moser LE (1994) Plant factors affecting forage quality. In: Fahey GC Jr et al (eds) Forage quality, evaluation, and utilization. ASA/CSSA/SSSA, Madison, pp 115–154Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Redfearn DD, Moore K, Vogel K, Waller S, Mitchell R (1997) Canopy architecture and morphology of switchgrass populations differing in forage yield. Agron J 89:262–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Moore KJ, Moser LE (1995) Quantifying developmental morphology of perennial grasses. Crop Sci 35:37–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hancock DW (2009) The management and use of switchgrass in Georgia. Georgia Cooperative Extension Bulletin 1358Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Wolf DD, Fiske DA (2009) Planting and managing switchgrass for forage, wildlife, and conservation. Virginia Cooperative Extension Bulletin, 418-013Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Hohenstein WG, Wright LL (1994) Biomass energy production in the United States: An overview. Biomass Bioenerg 6:161–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Monti A, Bezzi G, Pritoni G, Venturi G (2008) Long-term productivity of lowland and upland switchgrass cytotypes as affected by cutting frequency. Bioresour Technol 99:7425–7432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Sanderson MA, Read JC, Reed RL (1999) Harvest management of switchgrass for biomass feedstock and forage production. Agron J 91:5–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Vogel KP, Brejda JJ, Walters DT, Buxton DR (2002) Switchgrass biomass production in the Midwest USA: harvest and nitrogen management. Agron J 94:413–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Mitchell RB, Vogel KP, Sarath G (2008) Managing and enhancing switchgrass as a bioenergy feedstock. Biofuel Bioprod Bior 2:530–539CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Wullschleger SD, Davis EB, Borsuk ME, Gunderson CA, Lynd LR (2010) Biomass production in switchgrass across the United States: database description and determinants of yield. Crop Sci 102:1158–1168Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Anderson BE, Matches AG (1983) Forage yield, quality, and persistence of switchgrass and caucasian bluestem. Agron J 75:119–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Newell LC, Keim FD (1947) Effects of mowing frequency on the yield and protein content of several grasses grown in pure stands, Nebr Agric Exp Stn Bull 150Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Adler PR, Sanderson MA, Boateng AA, Weimer PJ, Jung H-JG (2006) Biomass yield and biofuel quality of switchgrass harvested in fall or spring. Agron J 98:1518–1525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Collins HP, Fransen S, Hang A, Boydston RA, Kruger C (2008) Biomass production and nutrient removal by switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) under irrigation. In: ASA-CSSA-SSSA international annual meetings abstract, Houston on CDGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Liebig MA, Johnson HA, Hanson JD, Frank AB (2005) Soil carbon under switchgrass stands and cultivated cropland. Biomass Bioenerg 28:347–354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Mitchell RB, Vogel KP, Uden DR (2012) The feasibility of switchgrass for biofuel production. Biofuels 3:47–59Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Schmer MR, Liebig MA, Vogel KP, Mitchell RB (2011) Field-scale soil property changes under switchgrass managed for bioenergy. GCB Bioenergy 3:439–449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Conant RT, Paustian K, Elliot ET (2001) Grassland management and conversion into grassland: Effects on soil carbon. Ecol Applic 11:343–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Monti A, Barbanti L, Zatta A, Zegada-Lizarazu W (2011) The contribution of switchgrass in reducing GHG emissions. GCB Bioenergy doi:  10.1111/j.1757-1707.2011.01142.x
  30. 30.
    Liebig MA, Vogel KP, Schmer MR, Mitchell RB (2008) Soil carbon storage by switchgrass grown for bioenergy. Bioenergy Res 1:215–222 Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Lee DK, Owens VN, Doolittle JJ (2007) Switchgrass and soil carbon sequestration response to ammonium nitrate, manure, and harvest frequency on Conservation Reserve Program land. Agron J 99:462–468CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    McLaughlin SB, De La Torre Ugarte DG et al (2002) High-value renewable energy from prairie grasses. Environ Sci Tech 36:2122–2129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Al-Kaisi MM, Yin X, Licht MA (2005) Soil carbon and nitrogen changes as influenced by tillage and cropping systems in some Iowa soils. Agric Ecosyst Environ 105:635–647CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Frank AB, Berdahl JD, Hanson JD, Liebig MA, Johnson HA (2004) Biomass and carbon partitioning in switchgrass. Crop Sci 44:1391–1396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Garten CT, Wullschleger SD (2000) Soil carbon dynamics beneath switchgrass as indicated by stable isotope analysis. J Environ Qual 29:645–653CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Ma Z, Wood CW, Bransby DI (2001) Impact of row spacing, nitrogen rate, and time on carbon partitioning of switchgrass. Biomass Bioenerg 20:413–419CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Zan CS, Fyles JW, Girouard P, Samson RA (2001) Carbon sequestration in perennial bioenergy, annual corn and uncultivated systems in southern Quebec. Agric Ecosys Environ 86:135–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Hess JR, Kenney KL, Ovard LP, Searcy EM, Wright CT (2009) Uniform-format bioenergy feedstock supply system: a commodity-scale design to produce and infrastructure-compatible bulk solid from lignocellulosic biomass. Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho FallsCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Aden A, Ruth M, Sheehan J, Ibsen K, Majdeski H, Galvez A (2002) Lignocellulosic biomass to ethanol process design and economics utilizing co-current dilute acid prehydrolysis and enzymatic hydrolysis for corn stover. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, GoldenCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Laser M, Jin H, Jayawardhana K, Lynd LR (2009) Coproduction of ethanol and power from switchgrass. Biofuel Bioprod Bior 3:195–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Yu T, Larson JA, English BC, Cho S (2011) Evaluating the economics of incorporating preprocessing facilities in the biomass supply logistics with an application in east Tennessee The Southeastern Sun Gran Center Final ReportGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Inman D, Nagle N, Jacobson J, Searcy E, Ray AE (2010) Feedstock handling and processing effects on biochemical conversion to biofuels. Biofuel Bioprod Bior 4:562–573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Doe US (2011) US Billion-ton update: Biomass supply for bioenergy and bioproducts industry. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak RidgeGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Collins M, Owens VN (2003) Preservation of forage as hay and silage. In: Barnes RF, Nelson CJ, Collins M, Moore KJ (eds) Forages: an introduction to grassland agriculture, 6th edn. Iowa State Press, AmesGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Turhollow A, Downing M, Butler J (1998) Forage harvests and transportation costs. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak RidgeGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Lazarus W, Selley R (2005) Farm machinery economic costs estimates for 2005. University of Minnesota Extension Service, MinneapolisGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Shinners KJ, Boettcher GC (2006) Drying, harvesting and storage characteristics of perennial grasses as biomass feedstocks. ASABE Annual International Meeting, MinneapolisGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Bransby DI, Smith HA, Taylor CR, Duffy PA (2005) Switchgrass budget model: An interactive budget model for producing and delivering switchgrass to a bioprocessing plant. Ind Biotech 2:122–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Cundiff JS, Fike JH, Parrish DJ, Alwang J (2009) Logistic constraints in developing dedicated large-scale bioenergy systems in the Southeastern United States. J Environ Eng 135:1086CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Digman M, Shinners K, Muck R, Dien B (2010a) Full-scale on-farm pretreatment of perennial grasses with dilute acid for fuel ethanol production. Bioenerg Res 3:335–341Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Kumar A, Sokhansanj S (2007) Switchgrass (Panicum vigratum L.) delivery to a biorefinery using integrated biomass supply analysis and logistics (IBSAL) model. Bioresour Technol 98:1033–1044CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Sokhansanj S, Sudhagar M, Turhollow A, Kumar A, Bransby D, Lynd L, Laser M (2009) Larg-scale production, harvest, and logistics of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.)-current technology and envisioning a mature technology. Biofuel Bioprod Bior 3:124–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Hess JR, Wright CT, Kenney KL (2007) Cellulosic biomass feedstocks and logistics for ethanol production. Biofuel Bioprod Bior 1:181–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Dien B, Jung H, Vogel K, Casler M, Lamb J, Iten L, Mitchell R, Sarath G (2006) Chemical composition and response to dilute-acid pretreatment and enzymatic saccharification of alfalfa, reed canary grass, and switchgrass. Biomass Bioenerg 30:880–891CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Duffy M (2007) Estimated costs for production, storage and transportation of switchgrass. PM 2042. Iowa State University Extension, AmesGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Digman MF, Shinners KJ, Muck RE, Dien BS (2010b) Pilot-scale on-farm pretreatment of perennial grasses with dilute acid and alkali for fuel ethanol production. T Asabe 53:1007–1014Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Tumuluru JS, Wright CT, Hess JR, Kenney KL (2011) A review of biomass densification systems to develop uniform feedstock commodities for bioenergy application. Biofuel Bioprod Bior 5:683–707CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Sanderson MA, Egg RP, Wiselogel AE (1997) Biomass losses during harvest and storage of switchgrass. Biomass Bioenerg 12:107–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Cundiff JS, Marsh LS (1995) Effects of ambient environment on the storage of switchgrass for biomass to ethanol and thermochemical fuels. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, GoldenGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Johnson KD, Cherney JH, Greene DK, Valence IJ (1991) Evaluation of switchgrass and sorghum biomass potential. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak RidgeGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Monti A, Fazio S, Venturi G (2009) The discrepancy between plot and field yields: Harvest and storage losses of switchgrass. Biomass Bioenerg 33:841–847CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    Larson JA, Mooney DF, English BC, Tyler DD (2010) Cost analysis of alternative harvest and storage methods for switchgrass in the southeastern. In: U.S. Southern agricultural economics association annual meeting, OrlandoGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Rotz CA (2003) How to maintain forage quality during harvest and storage. Adv Dairy Technol 15:227–239Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Wiselogel AE, Agblevor FA, Johnson DK, Deutch S, Fennell JA, Sanderson MA (1996) Compositional changes during storage of large round switchgrass bales. Bioresour Technol 56:103–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. 65.
    Rider AR, Batchelor D, McMurphy W (1979) Effects of long-term outside storage on round bales. In: Am Soc Agric Eng, St. Joseph, MI, ASAE Paper No. 79–1538Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Grain, Forage, and Bioenergy Research UnitUSDA-ARSLincolnUSA
  2. 2.Agroecosystem Management Research UnitUSDA-ARSLincolnUSA

Personalised recommendations