Determining effects of sodicity and salinity on switchgrass and prairie cordgrass germination and plant growth

Eric K. Anderson, Thomas B Voigt, Sumin Kim, DoKyoung Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Marginal and degraded lands are expected to be important resources in the production of biofuel feedstocks in order to avoid real or perceived competition with food, feed and fiber production. Globally, there are millions of hectares of salt-affected land available for lignocellulosic feedstock production. Greenhouse experiments determined the effects of irrigating with water having different levels of salinity and sodicity on seedling emergence, plant growth, and cation balance in plant tissues in several populations of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) and prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata Link). The effect of salt stress on seedling emergence was more pronounced in switchgrass than prairie cordgrass with 31 and 15% reduction, respectively, compared with pure water. In a two-season greenhouse pot experiment, aboveground dry biomass production in control treatments was 8 and 21% higher in prairie cordgrass pc17-102 and pc17-109, respectively, than in EG 1102 switchgrass. Switchgrass EG 1102 produced greater biomass than prairie cordgrass populations when irrigated with moderately saline (5dSm-1) water, although differences were not detected with highly saline water (10dSm-1). Switchgrass EG 2101 emergence, plant growth and cation balance were severely affected by increasing levels of salinity. Overall, several prairie cordgrass populations and lowland switchgrass cultivars were found to have good emergence and high biomass production under moderate to high salt stress and may be good candidates for lignocellulosic feedstocks on salt-affected land.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-87
Number of pages9
JournalIndustrial Crops and Products
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Biomass
  • Establishment
  • Lignocellulosic feedstock
  • Marginal land
  • Panicum virgatum
  • Perennial grass
  • Salt-affected land
  • Spartina pectinata

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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