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Mapping cropland waterway buffers for switchgrass development in the eastern Great Plains, USA

June 1, 2018

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), a highly productive perennial grass, has been recommended as one potential source for cellulosic biofuel feedstocks. Previous studies indicate that planting perennial grasses (e.g., switchgrass) in high‐topographic‐relief cropland waterway buffers can improve local environmental conditions and sustainability. The main advantages of this land management practice include (i) reducing soil erosion and improving water quality because switchgrass requires less tillage, fertilizers, and pesticides; and (ii) improving regional ecosystem services (e.g., improving water infiltration, minimizing drought and flood impacts on production, and serving as carbon sinks). In this study, we mapped high‐topographic‐relief cropland waterway buffers with high switchgrass productivity potential that may be suitable for switchgrass development in the eastern Great Plains (EGP). The US Geological Survey (USGS) Compound Topographic Index map, National Land Cover Database 2011, USGS irrigation map, and a switchgrass biomass productivity map derived from a previous study were used to identify the switchgrass potential areas. Results show that about 16 342 km2(c. 1.3% of the total study area) of cropland waterway buffers in the EGP are potentially suitable for switchgrass development. The total annual estimated switchgrass biomass production for these suitable areas is approximately 15 million metric tons. Results from this study provide useful information on EGP areas with good cellulosic switchgrass biomass production potential and synergistic substantial potential for improvement of ecosystem services.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2018
Title Mapping cropland waterway buffers for switchgrass development in the eastern Great Plains, USA
DOI 10.1111/gcbb.12511
Authors Yingxin Gu, Bruce K. Wylie
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Global Change Biology Bioenergy
Index ID 70200925
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center

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