Predicting soils and environmental impacts associated with switchgrass for bioenergy production: a DAYCENT modeling approach

Liming Lai, Sandeep Kumar, Solomon M. Folle, Vance N. Owens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) production has the potential to improve soils and the environment. However, little is known about the long-term future assessment of soil and environmental impacts associated with switchgrass production. In this study, soil organic carbon (SOC), soil nitrate (NO- 3), water-filled pore space (WFPS), carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O) fluxes, and biomass yield from switchgrass field were predicted using DAYCENT models for 2016 through 2050. Measured data for model calibration and validation at this study site managed with nitrogen fertilization rates (N rates) (low, 0 kg N ha−1; medium, 56 kg N ha−1; and high, 112 kg N ha−1) and landscape positions (shoulder and footslope) for switchgrass production were collected from the previously published studies. Modeling results showed that the N fertilization can enhance SOC and soil NO3 , but increase soil N2O and CO2 fluxes. In this study, medium N fertilization was the optimum rate for enhancing switchgrass yield and reducing negative impact on the environment. Footslope position can be beneficial for improving SOC, NO- 3, and yield, but contribute higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to those of the shoulder. An increase in temperature and decrease in precipitation (climate scenarios) may reduce soil NO-3, WFPS, and N2O flux. Switchgrass production can improve and maintain SOC and NO- 3, and reduce N2O and CO2 fluxes over the predicted years. These findings indicate that switchgrass could be a sustainable bioenergy crop on marginally yielding lands for improving soils without significant negative impacts on the environment in the long run.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-302
Number of pages16
JournalGCB Bioenergy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Authors. Global Change Biology Bioenergy Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • DAYCENT model
  • carbon dioxide flux
  • nitrous oxide flux
  • soil nitrate
  • soil organic carbon
  • switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.)


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