MISSOURI — A study was done on the use of switchgrass and if it improves soil quality.
Click play below to listen to KMZU’s Amanda Wagner speak with Stephen Anderson, a professor at the University of Missouri in Soil Science.
Switchgrass also known as Panicum Virgatum is a warm season perennial commonly used for biofuel. It has also been found to improve the soil quality on farms that have lost fertile topsoil.
The study was done by Anderson and several other researchers, looking at the challenges with soil erosion.
“When we have soil erosion on certain soils, we lose the nice silt loam topsoil,” said Anderson. “…when we lose that we get into more of the clay subsoil, which don’t hold the water as well.”
According to the University of Missouri, the researchers examined farming plots with varying levels of topsoil, which were established in 2009. Each plot had varying amounts of topsoil ranging from extra topsoil to no topsoil. Corn, soybeans and switchgrass were grown on each plot, and after five years, the researchers examined the soil density and water permeability of each plot. They found that the switchgrass had improved the soil quality of the plots with little or no topsoil on which it grew.
“We always want to preserve our soil,” says Anderson. “…if we can keep our soil on the landscape rather than having erosion challenges, that’s always the best thing to do.”