A computer model called ALMANAC promises to provide answers about a key issue facing agriculture today: the management of crops such as corn and switchgrass for bioenergy production. Agricultural Research Service agronomist Jim R. Kiniry at the Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory in Temple, Texas, and his colleagues originally developed ALMANAC as a crop-management tool, then updated it as a pasture management tool. Now it's being used to evaluate biofuel crops.
After its development in Texas, the model was tested in northern states in 2005. It accurately predicted switchgrass yields in 10 fields in North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska. The model's predicted yields each year were within 1 to 10 percent of actual yields over all fields.
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