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Switchgrass utilization is an emerging market currently in the research and demonstration-project arena. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is a summer perennial grass that is native to North America. It is a natural component of the tall grass prairie that covered most of the Great Plains, as well as the south and eastern United States. It is resistant to many pests and plant diseases, and it is capable of producing high yields with very low applications of fertilizer. This means that the need for agricultural chemicals to grow switchgrass is low to nonexistent; however, fertilization may be necessary to maintain harvestable stands. Switchgrass also is very tolerant of poor soils, flooding and drought. A production guide produced in 2010 by Blade Energy Crops considers crop production and management, energy-crop agronomics and yield in considerable detail.

Switchgrass production can benefit farmers, taxpayers, industrial fiber producers, energy producers and energy consumers. Switchgrass is a valuable soil protection cover crop. It binds loose soils and provides valuable wildlife habitat. Additionally, it has been demonstrated that it could become a valuable fiber source for manufactured composite "wood" products and fiber-plastic composite materials. "Bioenergy" can be produced by co-firing switchgrass with coal to produce electricity in existing power plants, which offers a near-term energy production alternative, as does eventually using switchgrass as a feedstock in bio-reactors that produce bio-based fuels or industrially important chemicals. Pelletized switchgrass has been tested in pellet stoves for general home heating in some rural areas and has been discussed as having great potential as a clean-burning alternative to coal or imported fossil fuels. However, there are lignin and ash issues with some combustion systems.  August 2012 ... Switchgrass


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Links checked August 2013.


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