Research Summaries

These research summaries describe CenUSA's work in key project areas. Check the links below to access pdfs of every research summary.

University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener CenUSA Biochar Demonstration Gardens 2012-2015.

  • Extension specialists working with Extension Master Gardener volunteers, grew, harvested and measured common garden crops over four years to see if those grown in biochar-amended soils were more productive.

Biofuel Quality Improved by Delaying Harvest of Perennial Grass (Mar. 2017)

  • CenUSA's Emily A. Heaton (Assistant Professor, Dept. of Agronomy, Iowa State University) shows how a simple management strategy can decrease nitrogen contaminants in perennial grasses, while also providing additional ecosystem services. 

Research Summary: Overview of Comparative Injury Risk Between Annual Corn and Perennial Switchgrass Production (Feb. 2017)

  • A probabilistic risk assessment model has been created to compare estimated worker injury risk of corn vs switchgrass production.

Research Finds Strong Genetic Diversity in Switchgrass Gene Pools (Feb. 2017)

  • CenUSA's Michael D Casler (Research Geneticist, U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center) explains how genetic diversity in native switchgrass populations will benefit new varieties developed for biofuel production and ecosystem services. 

Switchgrass Hay Utilization as Roughage in Beef Diets (Jan. 2017) 

  • Christopher Clark (Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Beef Field Specialist) explains how switchgrass hay could be a useful roughage in beef diets while offering a market alternative to biofuels. 

Competition For Land Use—Why Would a Rational Producer Grow Switchgrass for Biofuel? (Jan. 2015)

  • Keri Jacobs (Assistant Professor, Iowa State University) show how (Farmers value the conservation and environmental benefits of fswitchgrass grown for biofuels but also consider profit, alternative land uses, and public policy incentives when making production decisions. 

Minnesota Watershed Nitrogen Reduction Planning Tool (Jan 2015)

  • William F. Lazarus (Professor and Extension Economist, University of Minnesota), Geoff Kramer (Research Fellow, Department of Biosystems and Bioproducts Engineering, University of Minnesota), David J. Mulla (Professor, Department of Soil, Water, and Climate, University of Minnesota) & David Wall (Senior Hydrologist, Watershed Division, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency). 

Near-Infrared (NIR) Analysis Provides Efficient Evaluation of Biomass Samples (Jan. 2015)

  • CenUSA's Bruce Dien (Lead scientist, Bioenergy Research Unit, ARS, Peoria, IL) shows how near-infrared analysis allows plant breeders and biorefiners to rapidly measure the composition of a biomass sample. 

Management Practices Impact Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Harvest of Corn Stover for Biofuels (Jan 2015) 

  • CenUSA's Virginia Jin (Research Soil Scientist, USDA-Agricultural Research Service) explains how residue management and tillage can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from soils during production of corn stover for biofuel. 

2014 Extension Master Gardener's CenUSA Biochar Demonstration Gardens

  •  CenUSA's Lynn Hagen addresses the question: "Is biochar a good soil amendment for home gardens?" 

Biochar Can Improve the Sustainability of Stover Removal for Bioenergy (Oct. 2013)

  • CenUSA's David Laird (Professor of Agronomy, Iowa State University) discusses how returning biochar created by fast pyrolysis to the soil more stover residue can be harvested for bioenergy without degrading soil quality or hurting crop yields in the long run.