Agronomic Field Trials

Agronomic trials of the crop across soil types and climate zones in Illinois.

* Principal Investigator:Steve Long,Germán Bollero

* Graduate Student:Fernando Miguez,Frank Dohleman

To improve capability in predicting yields across the state, 10 trials of Miscanthus and switchgrass will be conducted in different climate zones, soils and marginal lands (slopes, reclaimed and compacted soils). The benefits of adding leguminous cover crops, especially on easily eroded land will also be assessed. This will establish agronomic expertise in Miscanthus cultivation and will be persued through the following steps: establishment of miscanthus on marginal land, developing yield maps for Illinois, improving crop yield model, establishing ten acre fields of Miscanthus and switchgrass at UIUC for harvesting technology, as well as test burns, and slurry trials.


Our current experiment consists of seven small plots throughout the state and two 13.5 acre plots, one near Urbana, and one on the Dudley-Smith farm in Christian county. Each of the small plots consists of eight subplots, each 100 square meters, four of which are Miscanthus x giganteus, and four of which are switchgrass. Small plots near Champaign, DeKalb, and Dixon Springs were all planted in the spring of 2002, while small plots near Havana, Fairfield, Brownstown, and Orr were planted in the spring of 2004.

Each of the large plots consists of six blocks, with each block consisting of four one-half acre subplots, with one plot each of a corn-soybean rotation, M. x giganteus, switchgrass, and M. x giganteus with vetch (Villa Vicosa) used as a cover crop.

Research Plots

Map of Illinois showing predicted Miscanthus Yields throughout the state, as well as the location of each of the current field sites. The black circles represent small plots, while the red circles represent large plots.

Small Field Trials and Ornamental Plots

The original field trial plots planted in 2002 are 10×10 meter subplots. Miscanthus was hand- planted from rhizome stock at a density of 1 plant per square meter, allowing for 100 plants per subplot. Switchgrass was seed-planted at a density 13kg pure live seed per hectare. These represent our longest running field trials for biomass production.

Recently additional field trials have been added to the site by additional researchers involved with the special research institute.

In addition we have developed a relatively comprehensive collection of ornamental Miscanthus species in the effort to develop a sizable gene pool.

UIUC Field Trials Map

Large Propagation and Establishment Plots

Map of the large Urbana plots. Blocks 1-4 were planted in 2004, and Blocks 5 and 6 will be planted in 2005. In 2004, soybean was used in the corn-soybean rotation, and will be rotated annually. Each subplot measures roughly 0.2ha (0.5 acres), with the entire area, including alleys measuring 5.5 ha (13.5 acres).