Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kansas: Using CRP Land for Biomass Feedstock Production

AgFax.Com - Your Online Ag News Source


Talk about a “green” idea — using land taken out of agricultural production for conservation purposes and later using plant materials from it to produce biofuels, while retaining conservation benefits for the land.

To that end, Kansas State University researchers are studying the feasibility of using land that had been enrolled in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Reserve Program to grow plants for the biomass market.

“CRP is a program that began in 1985, that takes land out of crop production and puts it into perennial  grassland in order to conserve soil and reduce surface water runoff,” said K-State range scientist Keith Harmoney. “When this project started in 2008, Kansas had about 3 million acres in CRP land, but by the end of 2011, about 50 percent of those CRP contracts will expire.”

Harmoney, who is based at K-State’s Agricultural Research Center in Hays, is studying different ways to manage former CRP land that could produce biomass while retaining water quality, wildlife habitat and soil conservation benefits.

“We’re looking to see if there are other ways that producers can utilize the CRP lands without putting them back into row crops,” he said of the five-year study that began in 2008 and is scheduled to end with the harvest in 2012.

Kansas is one of six states involved in the study, and the 18-acre CRP site near Hays is the only site in Kansas. Other states in the study are Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Missouri and Georgia.

The research, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and Sun Grant Initiative, examines different management strategies, including using no nitrogen fertilizer, applying 50 pounds of N per acre and applying 100 pounds of N per acre.

The dominant grasses on the acreage are sideoats grama, indiangrass, little bluestem, switchgrass and big bluestem. A significant amount of yellow sweetclover is also present.

“The harvest management we’re studying is close to peak standing crop, shortly after the mid-point of summer, after July 15, and the other is at the end of the season after the first frost,” Harmoney said. The July 15 date is important because it marks the end of the Kansas grassland bird-nesting season, so harvesting after that date, in late July or early August, avoids disturbing any nesting birds.

“This research project is a little bit different than your typical plot research experiments,” the range scientist said. “It’s much larger scale. Each of the plots is one acre in size, which means we’ve been able to use typical field scale equipment to harvest the plots — just like the swathers and balers that producers would use.”

The stand was cut to a height of 6 inches, leaving a 6-inch stubble to maintain soil and water erosion.

The research so far shows that while fertilizing with 50 or 100 pounds of nitrogen per acre statistically increased yield over the non-fertilized treatment, the overall increase was not as efficient as expected, Harmoney said.

“Nitrogen fertilization has increased productivity,” he said. “We’ve been able to increase production by about 600 pounds per acre from having 50 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer, and just a little over 1,000 pounds an acre from utilizing 100 pounds of nitrogen per acre,” but noted that with current rates of production and returns, harvesting biomass from CRP land without adding N fertilizer is more profitable.

As part of the study, the researchers are tracking plant populations and plant composition to see how they’ve changed over time due to harvest management and nitrogen treatments.

“We’ve also collected soil samples so we’ll be able to track how soil nutrient status has changed over time, as well as some of the other soil properties,” Harmoney said.

After the-10 year contract expires on CRP program acres, producers have often had the option to re-enroll in CRP or to plant back to row crops, he said. Since the study began, thousands of Kansas CRP acres have been planted back to grain crops, but thousands of CRP acres have also been re-enrolled with new contracts.

“This project is important because Kansas currently has about 2.5 million acres of CRP lands, much of which will soon be coming out of the program, so any research that involves CRP has the potential to have a big impact and affect a large acreage of Kansas lands,” the researcher said.


Leave a Reply

Name and Email Address are required fields. Your email will not be published or shared with third parties.

Sunbelt Ag News

    U.S. Grain Transportation: Inspections Continue to Increase11-28

    DTN Livestock Open: Higher Start for Cattle Futures11-28

    DTN Grain Open: Markets Expected to Start Lower11-28

    Keith Good: Corn, Soybean Prices Up Slightly in November — USDA11-28

    AFB Grain-Soybean Close: Corn, Wheat Higher, Soybeans See Modest Losses11-26

    AFB Cotton Close: Prices Surge Higher11-26

    AFB Rice Close: Jan, March Chart Bullish Key Reversals11-26

    Energy: N. American Oil Companies See Improved Financial Results in 3rd Quarter11-26

    Residential Heating Oil Prices Lower11-26

    Propane Stocks Fall 2M Barrels11-26

    Gasoline Prices Drop 7 Cents11-26

    Diesel Prices Fall 3 Cents11-26

    Texas: Hopkins County Designated Natural Disaster Area11-26

    Kansas: 4 Counties Declared Natural Disaster Areas11-26

    Alabama: 4 Counties Designated as Primary Disaster Areas11-26

    Texas Pecans: Demand Good but Quality Variable11-26

    Louisiana Pecans: Light Deliveries, Good Buying Interest11-26

    Georgia Pecans: Prices Slightly Higher with Strong Trade11-26

    DTN Livestock Midday: Pressure Develops in Cattle Trade11-26

    DTN Grain Midday: Soybeans Slip 5 to 10 Lower11-26

    Farmers Share What They’re Thankful For — DTN11-26

    GMO Crops Have Facts on Their Side, but Debate Goes on — DTN11-26

    DTN Cotton Open: Posts Slight Gains in Quiet Trade11-26

    Wheat: Make One Last Scouting Trip This Fall — DTN11-26

    Farm Income Down 21%; Expenses Up 5.7% – USDA Forecast11-26

    DTN Livestock Close: Feeder Futures Knocked Hard for 2nd Session11-25

    Livestock: 6 Tips to Fight PEDv This Fall11-25

    Doane Cotton Close: Outside Strength Helps Prices Rebound11-25

    AgFax Cotton Review: New Stink Bug App; India Exports Drop11-25

    DTN Cotton Close: Higher on Light Volume11-25

    Tax Breaks: Waiting for 2014 Equipment Deduction, Biofuel – DTN11-25

    DTN Grain Close: Bean Complex Rallies, Grains Follow11-25

    USDA: Weekly National Peanut Prices11-25

    Georgia: 10 Farm Bill Meetings Scheduled for Mid Dec.11-25

    AgFax Rice Review: Iraq Resumes U.S. Purchases; Cambodia Wins Best Rice Award11-25

    Winter Weather Creates More Problems for Railroads — DTN11-25

    Future of Cellulosic Biofuels in U.S. Questioned — DTN11-25

    AgFax Peanut Review: Growers Urged to Plant Earlier; Texoma Sells Drying Facility11-25

    Shurley on Cotton: New Round of Weakness Sets In11-25

    Welch on Wheat: Crop Condition Down Slightly11-24

    Welch on Grain: Snow Keeps 770M Bushels of Corn in Field11-24

    Farmland Partners Buys 7 South Carolina Farms for $28M11-24

    Livestock: Hog and Pork Prices Return to Reality11-24

    Corn: Breaking Down Stalks Takes Thought, Planning — DTN11-24

    DTN Fertilizer Outlook: Winter’s Arrival May Delay Some Buying11-24

    Brazil Soybeans: Dry Conditions Still Cause for Concern11-24

    Flint on Crops: Low Input Farming May be Necessary in 201511-24

    Midwest Corn And Soybean Yields – Our Readers’ Reports – AgFax11-22

    Grain Drying: 6 Questions About Effects Of Sudden Drop In Temps11-21

    Sunbelt Ag Events

     

    About Us

    AgFax.Com covers agricultural trends and production topics, with an emphasis on news about cotton, rice, peanuts, corn, soybeans, wheat and tree crops, including almonds, pecans, walnuts and pistachios.

      

    This site also serves as the on-line presence of electronic crop and pest reports published by AgFax Media LLC (formerly Looking South Communications).

        

    Click here to subscribe to our free reports.

      

    We provide early warnings and confirmations about pests, diseases and other factors that influence yield. Our goal is to quickly provide farmers and crop advisors with information needed to make better and more profitable decisions.

         

    Our free weekly crop and pest advisories include:

    • AgFax Midsouth Cotton, covering cotton production and news in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Missouri.

    • AgFax Southeast Cotton, covering cotton production and news in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

    • AgFax Southwest Cotton (new for 2013!), covering cotton production and news in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and New Mexico.

    • AgFax West (formerly MiteFax: SJV Cotton), covering California cotton, alfalfa, tomatoes and other non-permanent crops in California's Central Valley.

    • AgFax Rice covering rice production and news in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas.

    • AgFax Peanuts, covering peanut production in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

    • AgFax Southern Grain: covering soybeans, corn, milo and small grains in Southern states.

    • AgFax Almonds, covering almonds, pistachios, walnuts and other tree crops in California's Central Valley.

    • AgCom 101, providing guidance to ag professionals involved in social media.

    Our newsletters are sponsored by the following companies: FMC Corporation Chemtura Dow AgroSciences.

          

    Mission statement:

    Make it as easy as possible for our community of readers to find and/or receive needed information.

              

    Contact Information:

    AgFax Media. LLC

    142 Westlake Drive Brandon, MS 39047

    601-992-9488 Office 601-992-3503 Fax

    Owen Taylor Debra L. Ferguson Laurie Courtney

          

    Circulation Questions?

    Contact Laurie Courtney