The influence of propagation method and stand age on Miscanthus x giganteus performance in Iowa, USA

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2013-01-01
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Boersma, Nicholas
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Emily A. Heaton
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Agronomy

The Department of Agronomy seeks to teach the study of the farm-field, its crops, and its science and management. It originally consisted of three sub-departments to do this: Soils, Farm-Crops, and Agricultural Engineering (which became its own department in 1907). Today, the department teaches crop sciences and breeding, soil sciences, meteorology, agroecology, and biotechnology.

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The Department of Agronomy was formed in 1902. From 1917 to 1935 it was known as the Department of Farm Crops and Soils.

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1902–present

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  • Department of Farm Crops and Soils (1917–1935)

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Abstract

Climate change and a desire for oil independency have stimulated interest in dedicated biomass crops for domestic biofuels production. Miscanthus × giganteus Greef et Deu., an exceptionally productive crop in the Midwestern USA, exhibits many ideal biomass crop traits, notably sterility which decreases invasive potential. Although a labor intensive process, rhizome propagation is the most common method for vegetatively propagating M. × giganteus. Stem propagation, investigated here, alleviates many challenges associated with rhizome production. Utilizing 30 °C soil and the first five nodal stem segments increased M. × giganteus propagation rates 12 fold of reported rhizome multiplication rates. Stem propagated plants (SPs) were field–tested at three sites in Iowa. I found that established SPs and rhizome propagated plants (RPs) yielded similarly, and averaged 24.7 Mg ha-1, similar to other Midwestern trials. Previous work showed that first–year M. × giganteus exhibited poor winter survival. In contrast, I found very high (> 99 %) first winter survival for both SPs and RPs. However, establishment losses for RPs and SPs were very high: 40 times greater than first winter losses. Winter survival was high in Iowa trials, but plants remained green until a killing frost; this observation is blamed for poor winter survival in early M. × giganteus trials. Here, the anecdotal assertion that first–year M. × giganteus exhibits minimal leaf senescence in the first autumn was supported quantitatively by photosynthetic and leaf N measurements. At the end of the first season, M. × giganteus exhibited photosynthetic rates, photosystem II efficiencies and leaf N up to 4, 4 and 2.4 times greater, respectively, than third–year plants, indicating delayed senescence.

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Tue Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2013