2016 Research in the Capitol

Title

Prairie Power Project

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Keywords

Plant biomass--Iowa--Black Hawk County; Prairie plants--Iowa--Black Hawk County;

Abstract

Two of the most pressing ecological issues facing human society are the loss of biodiversity and the rising demand for alternative energy sources. In Iowa, the development of bioenergy crops comprised of native tallgrass prairie species has the potential to address both issues. We conducted a field experiment assessing the potential biomass yields and wildlife habitat value of four candidate tallgrass prairie agroenergy crops grown at site formerly managed for annual row crop production in Black Hawk County. From 2009-2014, we annually monitored crop productivity and wildlife use of the plots. Diverse (16- and 32-species) prairie mixtures were as productive (~7.3 to 8.8 Mg/ha) as switchgrass monocultures and were more resistant to weedy invasion. Bird and butterflies abundance and diversity were consistently greater in diverse mixtures compared to the low-diversity crops, and several grassland birds of conservation concern nested at the site.

Start Date

29-3-2016 11:30 AM

End Date

29-3-2016 1:30 PM

Event Host

University Honors Programs, Iowa Regent Universities

Faculty Advisor

Mark Myers

Department

Department of Biology

Department

Tallgrass Prairie Center

Comments

Location: Iowa State House, Rotunda, Des Moines, Iowa

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Mar 29th, 11:30 AM Mar 29th, 1:30 PM

Prairie Power Project

Two of the most pressing ecological issues facing human society are the loss of biodiversity and the rising demand for alternative energy sources. In Iowa, the development of bioenergy crops comprised of native tallgrass prairie species has the potential to address both issues. We conducted a field experiment assessing the potential biomass yields and wildlife habitat value of four candidate tallgrass prairie agroenergy crops grown at site formerly managed for annual row crop production in Black Hawk County. From 2009-2014, we annually monitored crop productivity and wildlife use of the plots. Diverse (16- and 32-species) prairie mixtures were as productive (~7.3 to 8.8 Mg/ha) as switchgrass monocultures and were more resistant to weedy invasion. Bird and butterflies abundance and diversity were consistently greater in diverse mixtures compared to the low-diversity crops, and several grassland birds of conservation concern nested at the site.