Perennial rhizomatous grasses as bioenergy feedstock in SWAT: Parameter development and model improvement

Elizabeth M. Trybula, Raj Cibin, Jennifer L. Burks, Indrajeet Chaubey, Sylvie M. Brouder, Jeffrey J. Volenec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) is increasingly used to quantify hydrologic and water quality impacts of bioenergy production, but crop-growth parameters for candidate perennial rhizomatous grasses (PRG) Miscanthus × giganteus and upland ecotypes of Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) are limited by the availability of field data. Crop-growth parameter ranges and suggested values were developed in this study using agronomic and weather data collected at the Purdue University Water Quality Field Station in northwestern Indiana. During the process of parameterization, the comparison of measured data with conceptual representation of PRG growth in the model led to three changes in the SWAT 2009 code: the harvest algorithm was modified to maintain belowground biomass over winter, plant respiration was extended via modified-DLAI to better reflect maturity and leaf senescence, and nutrient uptake algorithms were revised to respond to temperature, water, and nutrient stress. Parameter values and changes to the model resulted in simulated biomass yield and leaf area index consistent with reported values for the region. Code changes in the SWAT model improved nutrient storage during dormancy period and nitrogen and phosphorus uptake by both switchgrass and Miscanthus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1185-1202
Number of pages18
JournalGCB Bioenergy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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