The GLBRC Marginal Land Experiment (MLE) was established in 2013 at various sites in Wisconsin and Michigan to evaluate the potential use of low productivity or abandoned fields for low input bioenergy feedstocks. Originally there were three sites in Michigan and three in Wisconsin, with sites distributed in the southern, central and northern part of each state (see map). The Oregon WI site was retired after the 2018 growing season due to high soil fertility.

Six different biofuel cropping systems (treatments) from the Biofuel Cropping Systems Experiment (BCSE) are replicated in each of 4 blocks at each site. The treatments include Switchgrass (G5, Panicum virgatum variety Cave-in-rock), Miscanthus (G6, Miscanthus x giganteus), Native Grasses (G7, a 5-species mix), Poplar (G8, “NM-6”, Populus nigra x populous maximowiczii on a 6-year rotation), Early Successional (G9), and Restored Prairie (G10, 18-species mix including forbs, grasses and legumes). There is also an Historical Vegetation (G11, unplanted) reference treatment.

Treatment plots are either 64 x 40’ or 64 x 64’, depending on site; however all Poplar (G8) plots are 64 x 64’. Click here for species and seeding rates of the Switchgrass (G5), Native Grasses (G7) and Restored Prairie (G10) treatments.

Split plots examine the effect of fertilization on all cropping systems and were established for G9 in 2014, G5-G7 and G10-G11 in 2015, and G8 in 2016. Rainout shelters were added to the fertilized split plot of G5 in 2018.