Evapotranspiration of advanced perennial bioenergy grasses produced on marginal land in the U.S. Midwest

Colleen R. Zumpf, Jules F. Cacho, Nora F. Grasse, Callie Walsh, Daniel J. Lee, Do Kyoung Lee, M. Cristina Negri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The production of dedicated energy crops for biofuel and co-products can help develop a sustainable and viable bioeconomy under a changing climate. The co-production of perennial bioenergy and commodity crops in an agricultural landscape has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide numerous ecosystem services. However, as production of advanced, higher-yielding cultivars occurs, their impact on water resources needs to be considered. Estimates of evapotranspiration (ET) of perennial grasses compared to commodity crops are not always consistent in the literature. In this study, ET was estimated using an energy-balance model with Landsat satellite imagery and ground-based weather data to compare the large-scale production of advanced switchgrass cultivars (‘Independence’, ‘Liberty’, and ‘Carthage’), predecessor cultivars (‘Shawnee’ and ‘Sunburst’), and other perennial grasses (big bluestem and a low-diversity mixture) to corn grown continuously on marginal soils in the U.S. Midwest. Results showed significant differences in ET between corn and perennial grass treatments at four of the five field sites. However, differences between crop treatments were not consistent across sites, nor were the differences between advanced and predecessor switchgrass varieties. Production year played a large role in daily and cumulative ET across all sites. Differences in crop biomass yield between establishment and post-establishment years may contribute to these interannual differences. Site and interannual variations in precipitation and temperature may also be major contributing factors. Overall, the results of this study indicate that differences in ET between perennial bioenergy grasses and corn are likely dependent upon location of production and weather conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106975
JournalBiomass and Bioenergy
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • Advanced cultivars
  • Evapotranspiration
  • Large-scale production
  • Remote sensing
  • Switchgrass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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