In order to determine how to grow the best crops for biomass production, the production and growth limits of the crops must be well understood. To find these limits, the crop must be grown in a controlled environment and tested in multiple stress environments.
Dr. Raja Reddy and a team of researchers in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at MSU are using the SPAR (Soil-Plant-Atmosphere-Research) facility, pot-culture facilities, and field studies to address the issues related to crop response to environmental conditions and to observe genotypic variability among various crop genotypes. The SPAR facility has been used extensively with research involving the development of functional relationships between crop parameters and environmental factors. This system isolates the crop from outside variables and provides numerous growth options such as single or multiple stresses which can be routinely changed throughout the growth stage of the crop. Currently, an experiment was started to study the influence of potassium nutrition on switchgrass (Alamo) forage, and feedstock quality, growth and photosynthesis. Alamo switchgrass seed were planted 7 July 2010 in 12-L pots, arranged in 1-m row spacing. Four levels of potassium treatments will be imposed 2-weeks prior to flowering. Growth, development (leaves and tillers), photosynthesis, forage and feedstock quality, potassium and other nutrients will be monitored at specific growth stages. At the end of the season, feedstock quality will be estimated. Also, experimental plans are underway to generate plant material to look into photosynthetic performance of various potential feedstock grass species.
The SPAR facility
“Full characterization of the pysiological limits of select bioenergy crops in Mississippi ”
Dr. K Raja Reddy