Talk:Panicum virgatum

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C4 carbon fixation[edit]

What's the "(C4 carbon fixation)" thing about ? What does it have to do with the fact that we're talking about a "warm-season plant" ? ---

Almost all warm-season plants have the Kranz leaf anatomy (C4 carbon fixation). Why is this important? When scientists say a warm-season plant, this means this plant can tolerate high temperatures, are more water use efficient, are more nitrogen use efficient than cool-season plants and do not photorespire. The management and growth habits of warm-season grasses and cool-season grasses are different.

"Grazing sheep and horses on monoculture swtichgrass stands should be avoided." Because ?

  - Fair point, I've removed this.  I trust that anyone who replaces it will cite a source.

I agree, this article makes some interesting statements (eg. 1000 gallons of ethanol per acre), but without references it makes the statement feel meaningless. What other references on the ethanol yield per acrea for this stuff exist? Can it be used to make biodeisel as well?

Thirded. The "1000 gallons" statement appeared after the 2006 State of the Union address. I'm going to have to call shenanigans ont aht one, unless we can see some references.


Is that "1000 gallon of ethanol per acre" per year? per harvest?


There was an article on NPR tonight (February 1, 2006; An expert on switchgrass (David Bransby, professor of energy crops at Auburn University) stated it can produce 5-10 tons/acre and "at least 100 gallons of ethanol per ton" with the best technologies. Dsm 07:19, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

Relevant references[edit]

The references section included:


... neither of which seem particularly relevant. The latter, in fact, doesn't even mention "switchgrass". I've zapped them on this basis. mdf 22:38, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

Energy efficiency[edit]

Total energy in the universe is conserved switchgrass energy comes from the sun photosynthesis "He argues that for every unit of energy input, switchgrass yields four units out. The viability of switchgrass-derived biofuel as an alternative fuel remains contentious." —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 02:56, 3 December 2006 (UTC).

The energy spoken of was probably the fuel to run the tractors and so forth, not the energy from the sun ArrowStomper 08:26, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
See EROEI. For a source of energy to be worth using, it must have an EROEI greater than one. EROEI is not the same thing as efficiency, although the two concepts are related. --Teratornis (talk) 22:40, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

Yard waste to biofuel[edit]

The question / comments below come from "" :

If switchgrass can be clipped and used to produce ethanol, then how about using ordinary grass clippings from people's lawns? It gets clipped anyways. Maybe there are more grass clippings available than can be used for composting alone. Maybe more ethanol is more valuable than any composting. Grass clippings might be more useful than a person realizes. Maybe city waste and sanitation will have to forbid people from using the garbage for their grass clippings and make it mandatory to make all of their grass clippings available for collection sites. The people in charge of the collection sites (with more grass than ever) can determine how much is used for composting and how much is used for the production of ethanol.

See cellulosic ethanol. Yes, many forms of cellulosic plant waste including wood chips, leaves, grass clippings, etc., can be feedstock material for a biorefinery. However, that technology is not very far along yet. A simpler way to process a wide variety of plant waste and sewage is to make biogas, suitable for domestic heating and cooking. As the price of petroleum continues to climb (possibly because the world is at or near peak oil), there will be lots of interest in recovering as much energy from biomass as possible. However, the energy from typical suburban yard waste is probably only a fraction of suburban energy use. Liquid fuels from petroleum are an extremely concentrated form of energy. As declining oil production forces a large-scale switch to biofuels, we will see the immense scale of cultivation and material-handling necessary to compare to the energy we used to get just by poking holes in the ground. More than likely, biofuels will not fully replace petroleum, so energy conservation will also be very important. We need to get way, way more efficient. --Teratornis (talk) 08:10, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

New additions on background, heating fuels, forages, and establishment[edit]

  • This was written by a student in my class and I'm posting it for her.
  • The references in these sections don't match the existing referral system. I'm going to add those to the bottom. —Preceding unsigned comment added by SoilMan2007 (talkcontribs) 18:48, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Could someone help us with this. I don't know how to merge the reference sections. Thanks, SoilMan2007 (talk)
Soilman and students:
I have formatted the first two new footnotes. Here is what I did.
1. In place of your number one, I added <ref></ref>, which you will find in the Wiki markup section under the edit box. That automatically creates a consectutively-numbered footnote. Then after the <ref> and before the </ref> (note the difference between them: the / is very important) I selected and inserted a citation template. The one I chose was the {{cite web}} one, which, when inserted, produces this:
<ref>{{cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = | work = | publisher = | date = | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = }}</ref>
only it appears in a tabular form, which is easier to work with. Then I filled in the fields-- I find it easier to have one page open to the source, and another screen open to the edit page, so you can go back and forth. (You also may want to have a third one open to Citation templates.) I then deleted the empty fields (this is optional). That produced the fully-formatted footnote 1 you now see. (1st edit)
Going on to your footnote 2, I noted that the source had already been used. So I went to that prior use and formatted it, as above. I used a trick however which enables the footnote to be reused more than once. Instead of starting the footnote with <ref>; I added the author's name, and made it <ref name = Silzer>.(2d edit) The reason I did that it to enable other uses of that source anywhere in the article to use a shorthand reference form. How? Wherever you want to cite the source again, you just add <ref name = Silzer/> (note that here you have to add that all-important / after the name and before the >), and the footnote will link to the same source. That is what I did with your old footnote 2 (3d edit)-- note how one footnote now appears in two places.
Try this on a few footnotes-- or all of them-- as they all have to be done sometime. Select a citation template appropriate to the source (book, journal, web), put it between the <ref></ref>, fill in the fields you can, and you will have professional-looking footnotes.
When you are creating footnotes, insert them after the punctuation mark, either the period or comma.
You can get a tutorial on all of this at Wikipedia:Citing_sources. The type of referencing used her is footnote referencing, discussed at Wikipedia:Citing_sources#Footnote_referencing and Wikipedia:Footnotes.
Good luck. Kablammo (talk) 00:08, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
I"m going to take this off. I'd like the student to post it. Thanks for your help and we will have this back soon. SoilMan2007 (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 03:49, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
  • I hope we will have this material up next week. SoilMan2007 (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 03:39, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Help, can someone tell me how the copyright images of the two new images can be edited. Thanks, (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 18:45, 19 February 2008 (UTC)
  • Help, we are having major problems figuring out these references for the new additions. We also need help with the copyright on the two new images. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Lcodat (talkcontribs) 19 February 2008

Article needs rewrite[edit]

This article reads like someone's school project, as it appears from the above section. I have tagged it, and there needs be a thorough copyedit linking the references that don't exist etc., a thorough edit of the tone...this is an encyclopedia not a research paper or essay, the scope of the article needs to be expanded to include the importance beyond the US and it's biofuel needs. Twunchy (talk) 06:01, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

The article suffers (but I'm working on it) from having received heavy editing from users who know about the subject, but have not learned the arcana of Wikipedia yet. The designers of Wikipedia, of course, deliberately encouraged this sort of thing by making Wikipedia very easy for anyone to start editing, without requiring new users to understand any policies and guidelines first, and we welcome these good-faith attempts to improve our encyclopedia. However, the harsh reality is that it's much easier to dabble with Wikipedia than to do the hard work necessary to read the friendly manuals and learn to do it right. The result is that Wikipedia now has 32,421,496 registered users whose Wikipedia-specific skills follow a Pareto distribution (very few expert users, rather more somewhat-competent users, large numbers of marginally-competent users, and very large numbers who simply dabble a bit before losing interest). I have no quarrel with the philosophy of Wikipedia - clearly the great success of Wikipedia suggests there is a method to our madness; we just have to deal with the resulting problems eventually. I'm looking at fixing the references in the article. Evidently a student added some references without first reading the instructions in WP:FOOT, WP:CITE, and WP:CITET. I'm going through the references, looking up the ones which I can find online, putting them in citation templates. Those I cannot find or figure out, I will put in a list and try to get SoilMan2007's students to clarify any missing information so we can have proper citations. As to the United States perspective in the article, that's somewhat understandable considering:
  • Switchgrass is native to North America.
  • Because switchgrass is self-seeding, hardy, and grows rapidly, it could become an invasive weed in other parts of the world.
  • Apart from Canada, and possibly Mexico, other nations are probably more interested in other energy crops more suited to them (e.g., jatropha, palm oil, and sugar cane in the tropics; Miscanthus giganteus in Europe).
Canada has some switchgrass cultivation for biomass and possibly biofuel (I saw some YouTube videos about that), so there might be some reliable sources we can find and add, to give the article a slightly lower U.S.-centrism. --Teratornis (talk) 19:43, 20 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I don't think that this was copied from other sources as indicated in the post at the top of the page. It may seem so well written because the student did an outstanding job and it has gone through multiple edits by me and several scientists who are extremely knowledge about switch grass. I would challenge you to provide evidence for this. I would encourage twunchy to provide additional information to expand this article. I want to thank Teratornis for his help. we will address the issues you brought up. regards SoilMan2007 (talk) 20:00, 20 May 2008 (UTC)
We need to work on the encyclopedic tone a bit, the layout, and so on. I'll look at that after I straighten out the references. SoilMan2007, I'm not sure how anonymous you want to remain, but if you could put your institutional affiliation on your user page, that would allow other editors to work more efficiently with you and your students. There is a difference between being a subject-area expert vs. being familiar with Wikipedia's incredibly complex policies, guidelines, and procedures (what we might call "Wikipediology"). I have some knowledge of the latter so I will do what I can to help here. In the meantime, when you get a chance, you and your students may want to read some of Wikipedia's featured articles to get an idea of where we are trying to take all the articles. The whole area of Renewable energy tends to be rather new, and the articles on Wikipedia tend not to be as polished yet as the articles on a more mature area of scholarship such as Mathematics (for example, see the highly-organized editing guidelines in Wikipedia:WikiProject Mathematics - by comparison, Wikipedia:WikiProject Energy is less mature). --Teratornis (talk) 21:38, 20 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I'd also like to thank Twunchy
  • I really don't have time to deal with peacock terms but agree that they should be removed. The next time I have one of my classes make contributions, I'll try to give the students some examples of good contributions ... I think they key is to get students to work hard on making good contributions, make good edits, get the students to rewrite multiple times, and asking experts to review them. I am thinking that I will have them create sand boxes next times and invite wikipedians to make edits. One thing I don't want them to focus on is all the details of wikipedia. The goal is to help them become better writers and to add good stuff to wikipedia.
  • This contribution was from a class last fall. The student also added this: "Switchgrass is being used to heat small industrial and farm buildings in Germany and China through a process used to make a low-quality natural gas substitute (19). It can also be pressed into fuel pellets which are burned in special furnaces used to heat homes, which typically use corn or wood pellets (9). " but it seems to have been removed.
  • I think my former student added the sections on background, forages, and establishment. I had some pictures that I tried to upload but had all kinds of problems with it and they were automatically removed by wikipedia. Regards, SoilMan2007 (talk) 01:43, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
I can understand why you would view learning the details of how to edit Wikipedia as a distraction from your primary course teaching mission - because it is - but there are a few basic things every Wikipedia editor needs to learn. Editors who don't know the basic methods for the type of articles they want to edit will end up creating extra work for more knowledgeable editors. This seems to be particularly true for scientific articles which have many references that are difficult to find online. The case in point would be the references in Panicum virgatum. I am unscrambling the mess, and it is heavy going. It seems like each reference that I try to clean up introduces yet another new and sticky problem: some of the improperly manually-entered reference numbers (such as: (3)) do not appear in the body of the article anywhere; the references to pamphlets such as from IPNI lack ISBN numbers, and while I did find pages about these references on the IPNI site, I have to manually transcribe information from the screen shots of the book covers because the IPNI site does not include bibliographic information in text which I can copy and paste.
On the plus side, I'm learning for the first time about citation tools such as Zotero and Google Scholar enhanced with the Wikipedia citation assistant. I had not grappled with such difficult citation cleanup on Wikipedia before, so this exercise is motivating me to learn new and better tools. See my notes at:
When I find a reference on a site that Zotero understands, or when I find a link to a reference on Google Scholar, then it is easy to generate a proper citation with those tools. Since verfiability and citing sources are policies on Wikipedia ("policies" are stronger than "guidelines"), learning how to handle citations here is one of the most important things a Wikipedia user needs to know, particularly users who are scientists or scholars and will be adding dozens of citations into technically-oriented articles. By the way, I'm glad I learned about Zotero because it looks like an excellent tool for organizing the many Web pages I read so I can retrieve and cite them efficiently later. Your students will be writing papers and books for their whole careers, so anything they learn about handling citations efficiently on Wikipedia will serve them in other contexts. (Zotero seems to have many different options for exporting citations in various formats, including as Wikipedia's citation templates. Zotero looks like a marvelous tool when it understands the format of a Web page that gives a bibliographic reference, but unfortunately Zotero doesn't understand everything yet. I did notice that Zotero understands the SIRSI format that my local library's Web site uses, and that is remarkable - I can look up any book in that library, and with a couple of clicks generate a {{Cite book}} template for it. I will have to try this with various university library sites.) --Teratornis (talk) 20:36, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
Executive summary: we will need to hook you up with some Wikipedia users in your locality who understand how to use citation tools on Wikipedia, so they can train your students during the next course cycle. I'm sure there is someone near you who knows how to do this, so it doesn't have to be a drain on your work. Your students need to learn this anyway, because we wouldn't want them to experience the torture of manually editing their personal collections of citations for the rest of their careers. Managing references and citations is a big chunk of what scientists have to do, so they should master the best tools for it. --Teratornis (talk) 20:36, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

Citation repair[edit]

I finished converting all the remaining manually-edited references into footnotes and citation templates. I learned a few things about switchgrass in the process. Next I will edit some of the text in the article (for example, to comply with WP:MOS#Avoid first-person pronouns), and possibly change the nesting of sections a bit (for example, most of the subsections of the "Background" section could probably be separate sections rather than subsections). I also noticed that switchgrass appears in several other articles on Wikipedia:

and now that I know something about switchgrass, it will be worthwhile to check what the other articles say about it. Often on Wikipedia, different people write about the same thing in different articles, without necessarily being aware of each other's work. The result can be gaps and inconsistencies. At a minimum, we should link the first instance of any unobvious jargon terms to articles that define them, if such articles exist. Sometimes this requires changing a jargon term to the most standard and specific synonym. An example is this diff, in which the previous contributor referred to "special furnaces" which turned out to mean pellet stoves, so I added the link. (See: Wikipedia:Build the web for the relevant guideline.) --Teratornis (talk) 07:47, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

  • Teratornis, Thanks for all of your hard work. You did a great Job! SoilMan2007 (talk) 12:50, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
I found some other interesting sources, such as these reviews of Miscanthus giganteus, which have some comparisons with switchgrass:
I want to make a template that will "wrap" around the Google Scholar enhanced with the Wikipedia citation assistant (the new version is: Universal reference formatter). That is a very interesting search tool for finding research papers, and the tool provides a {{Wikify}} link that tries to provide a pre-filled {{Cite journal}} template call that you can copy and paste into a footnote. Sometimes it actually works. See User:Teratornis/Notes#Google Scholar enhanced with the Wikipedia citation assistant for my dabblings. The Miscanthus article also needs a lot of work. I still want to edit the Switchgrass article some more to remove the first person stuff and generalize the U.S.-centric focus. It's OK to write about stuff in the U.S. but it's not OK for the article to assume that all the readers are in the U.S. Fixing that is not too hard, with no loss of content, I just have to get around to it. --Teratornis (talk) 02:06, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
I made the "wrapper" template I mentioned above (with help from User:Smith609, the author of the Universal reference formatter): {{Google scholar cite}}. This makes generating citation templates pretty simple, when Google Scholar is able to find the references one needs. For example, try these searches:
The next time you teach a class, if your students can learn to use just that one relatively simple tool, they should have few problems creating proper citations to add in Wikipedia articles. --Teratornis (talk) 22:42, 15 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Hey this is great. I"m going to try it here to see if it works. if not can you reformat this. Thanks for showing me this.

hey i got it to work, cool, thanks SoilMan2007 (talk)

Thanks, Teratornis

I moved your sandbox page to: User:SoilMan2007/Sandbox2 to put it properly in your user space (user names are case-sensitive on Wikipedia). I also added links to your user page to help you keep track of your user subpages: (User:SoilMan2007#Subpages). See my comments on your talk page. --Teratornis (talk) 18:53, 30 June 2008 (UTC)

Seed suppliers[edit]

I removed the Seed suppliers section, because:

  • It is not a standard section in WP:LAYOUT.
  • It appears to violate Wikipedia:Lists, which says a list in Wikipedia should point to entities for which Wikipedia has articles, or might eventually have them. Few or none of the seed vendors appear to be notable enough to be subjects of their own articles. They might be, but there is no hint that they are going to be. Lists should not link to external sites, but to Wikipedia articles.
  • It violates WP:EL. Wikipedia is not a linkfarm, nor a platform for advertising. See Wikipedia:Spam event horizon for a summary of the undesirable process by which inexperienced but often well-meaning Wikipedia editors tend to spam up an article.
  • Raw external links are less desirable than footnote citations.
  • The list did not even follow list format.
  • Wikipedia is not a suitable venue for writing a how-to guide for growing switchgrass. If someone wants to grow switchgrass, they will need to look elsewhere. Wikibooks might possibly be a suitable venue for writing a grower's guide to switchgrass, and we could link to it from the Panicum virgatum article with the {{Wikibooks}} template. However, Wikibooks also gets squirrelly about how-to guides, I think. Personally I have some discomfort with Wikipedia's rejection of procedural knowledge; I think that is somewhat elitist. Not everyone is a gentleman scholar who reads for mere intellectual amusement - many people also have to work for a living, and they need information too. However, that's a larger issue than I can resolve. Other wikis specialize in procedural knowledge, for example wikiHow. There is also a User:RaffiKojian who is starting a wiki specifically about plant cultivation; see the recent Help desk discussion: (permanent link) and Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Plants#Plant and Garden wiki (non-WP).
  • The list would almost certainly not survive a featured article review.

I userfied the Seed suppliers section at User:Pvirgatum/Sandbox. Anyone who is new to Wikipedia should read Wikipedia: The Missing Manual. --Teratornis (talk) 00:39, 12 March 2009 (UTC)


This article: has some new information on pests of switchgrass. Smartse (talk) 13:19, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

Why is it Called Switchgrass?[edit] (talk) 02:17, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Switchgrass as Habitat?[edit]

It seems like it must have been incredibly rich habitat when it was pervasive. Almost like a grass jungle. Could increased agricultural use help various animal populations? (talk) 02:19, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

I feel the corn industry has messed with this page.[edit]

Otherwise, why is there such a well-cited, positive reference to corn? It doesn't seem to make very much sense; if people want to read about corn, they can follow a link or something. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:30, 12 February 2012 (UTC)

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