Mosier, S., L. Kelly, E. Ozlu, and G. P. Robertson. 2024. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) cultivars have similar impacts on soil carbon and nitrogen stocks and microbial function. GCB Bioenergy 16:e13125.

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Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) production for biofuel has the potential to produce reasonable yields on lands not suited for conventional agriculture. We assessed nine switchgrass cultivars representing lowland and upland ecotypes grown for 11 years at a site in the upper Midwest USA for belowground differences in soil carbon and nitrogen stocks, soil organic matter fractions, and standing root biomass to 1 m depth. We also compared potential nitrogen mineralization and carbon substrate use through community-level physiological profiling in surface soils (0–10 cm depth). Average yields and standing root biomass differed among cultivars and between ecotypes, but we found no significant cultivar-related impacts on soil carbon and nitrogen stocks, on the distribution of particulate and mineral-associated soil organic matter fractions, nor on potential nitrogen mineralization or microbial community-level physiological profiles. That these traits did not differ among cultivars suggests that soil carbon and nitrogen gains under switchgrass are likely to be robust with respect to cultivar differences, and to this point not much affected by breeding efforts.

DOI: 10.1111/gcbb.13125

Associated Treatment Areas:

  • Switchgrass Variety Trial I
  • Undergraduate Research

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