Improving the Sustainability of Switchgrass Establishment Through the Development of Cultivars with Improved Germination
Isolated blocks of cycle 0 plants were managed for weeds by hand in the spring and summer of 2010 at the Rutgers University Plant Biology Research and Extension Farm at Adelphia, NJ. Seed from each isolated block of cycle 0 plants was harvested by hand in fall of 2010, dried, and threshed. The newly harvested seed was sent to NexGen Research (Albany, Oregon) and sorted into weight classes. Sorted seed representing cycle 1 was sent back to us at Rutgers and will be germinated in early 2011 according to our established protocol. Data from 2010 has been recorded.
- 1) To determine whether selecting for heavy seed improves germination and emergence in three cultivars of switchgrass. a) We are continuing to carry out cycles of selection for heavy and light switchgrass seed. In 2010, plants from cycle 0 seed were planted to the field and seed was harvested, dried, threshed, and sorted to represent cycle 1. Germination and emergence data collected in 2010 has been recorded and will be analyzed upon collection of data from 2011 and 2012. Cycle 1 seed will be germinated in early 2011 according to the project time line. 2) To develop cultivars with improved establishment without the use of herbicides. a) In selecting for heavy switchgrass seed, we believe we are selecting for switchgrass plants with improved establishment that will be able to be planted without the use of herbicides. An additional cycle of selection will be performed in order to further concentrate genes involved in superior germination and emergence in our final population, from which we will select superior individuals to be used for development of cultivars with improved establishment. 3) To disseminate results in the form field day seminars, a peer-reviewed journal article and fact sheets regarding switchgrass establishment. a) Since the results of the experiment will not be determined until after the final cycle of selection is performed in 2012, no information has been shared to date. However, we anticipate publishing the results of this experiment in a peer-reviewed journal as well as sharing information learned with growers and farmers via fact sheet publications and field day presentations.
In early 2010, switchgrass seed from three cultivars, representing cycle 0, was sorted into weight classes, germinated, and grown in the greenhouse. Germination and emergence data from cycle 0 seed was recorded. In the spring of 2010, plants from cycle 0 seed were planted to the field in isolated crossing blocks. Seed from cycle 0 plants was harvested in fall of 2010. This newly harvested seed, representing cycle 1, was sent to NexGen Research (Albany, Oregon) and sorted into weight classes. Sorted seed was sent back to us at Rutgers and will be germinated in a growth chamber in early 2011 according to our protocol. To date, all goals for this project for 2010 have been accomplished in a timely manner with no unexpected or unforeseen events.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Due to the nature of the experiment (carrying out several cycles of selection of switchgrass), results and outcomes will not be determined until the final year of the project (2012). We anticipate that this project has the potential to reduce environmental and health risks in agriculture via a reduction in herbicide use on farms and by use of a sustainable crop species like switchgrass due to its ability to prevent agricultural pollution, conserve soil and other natural resources, and improve water quality and nutrient runoff. The development of new cultivars with improved germination as a result of this project should increase productivity and reduce establishment costs (the majority of the costs associated with growing switchgrass), which should lead to an increase in net farm income. The utilization of these switchgrass cultivars should improve the quality of life for farmers and the community. This project has major potential for outreach and publication once completed. A peer reviewed journal article as well as fact sheets will result from this work which will provide knowledge to farmers interested in growing switchgrass. Results will also be reported at grower field days. The results generated through this project will help farmers become more profitable, be good stewards of the land and help strengthen the community.
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
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New Brunswick, NJ 08901
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