Oklahoma State University

Contact Info


Dr. Gopal Kakani

Associate Professor

Bioenergy Crop Production

Tel: 405-744-4046

Fax: 405-744-0354





Active Research Projects


Title: Sustainable Feedstock Production Supply Systems to Support Cellulosic Biorefinery Industries

Project Period: 2009-2013

The overall objective of this project is to develop the practices and technologies necessary to ensure efficient, sustainable, and profitable production of cellulosic biomass. This project addresses the needs and concerns of diverse stakeholders both within the cellulosic biorefinery industry and within the public at large.
The specific objectives our group is involved are highlighted below:
1) Develop best management practices (BMP) for sustainable large-scale establishment and production of feedstock crops.
Enhance diversity, productivity, and resiliency through development of mixed-species bioenergy production systems.
3) Evaluate and develop dual-use production systems for improved resource use efficiency in current and projected climates.
4) Estimate carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation potential of bioenergy crops.
5) Determine potential of bioenergy crops to conserve surface and groundwater resources.
6) Model spatial variability of biomass yields and soil properties in switchgrass fields of differing growing conditions.
7) Identify quality characteristics of feedstock, using Abengoa Bioenergy as a customer of reference, to determine at what level designated feedstocks meet quality criteria.
8) Determine market bid price (per acre and per ton incentive) for short- and long-term crop and pastureland leases when producers are expected to follow pre-defined BMP.




Title: Developing a Sustainable Bioenergy Feedstock Production System in Oklahoma.

Project Period: 2009-2010

Overall Objectives
1) Increase diversity of Bioenergy Crops in Oklahoma.
2) Develop best management practices for switchgrass production.
3) Improved N and water use efficiency in switchgrass and tolerance to abiotic stresses.
4) Evaluate the impact of biofuel crop production practices impact soil organic carbon (SOC) storage.

Title: Genetic Improvement in Switchgrass for the Emerging Cellulosic-based Biofuel Industry
Objectives are to
1) Continue the long-term and existing RSGCA breeding within four upland and lowland ecotypic populations to effect incremental improvement in biomass yield.
2) Develop switchgrass cultivars with increased biomass yield over major commercial cultivars;
3) Test advanced breeding lines in strategically selected locations in Oklahoma;
4) Investigate inbreeding and heterotic response;
5) Estimate genetic variability and heritability for biomass yield in two lowland C2 populations using HS progeny families grown in solid rows.
Title: Field to Fuel...the Sorghum Connection
The overall objective of this research is to evaluate factors that affect the quality and quantity of sorghum biofeedstock from the production of the feedstock through to the material available for conversion.  The feedstock tested will include both high biomass sorghums and sweet sorghums.  Various agronomic practices will be tested in order to determine the best method of producing the most desirable feedstock product.  The effects of these agronomic practices will be analyzed through the consideration of quantity of biomass available, quality of the biomass through packaging and storage, and the quality of sweet sorghum juice.  The specific objectives include:
1) Determine the variety, optimum seeding rate, row spacing, and nitrogen application and their interaction for sweet sorghum and high biomass sorghum in Oklahoma.
2) Evaluate effects of agronomic practices on quality of sweet sorghum juice produced.
3) Evaluate effects of agronomic practices on quality of lignocellulosic biomass.

SunGrant NC

Project Title: Regional Feedstock Partnership Project - Oklahoma CRP Research Project Proposal to Evaluate CRP Potential for Biomass Feedstock Production. 

Project Period: 2008-2012

1) Perform replicated field trials on CRP land to gather biomass production and sustainability data that documents biomass yield at different regional locations for assessing potential of CRP land as a bioenergy feedstock resource.
2) Evaluate changes in soil physical and chemical properties of CRP land during the feedstock production period


Project Title: Assessing and predicting switchgrass and high-biomass sorghum yields and economic viability

Project Duration: 2011-2014


1.      Adaptappropriate crop modelsto predictswitchgrass and biomass sorghum biofuel feedstock productivity across diverse environmental conditions.

2.      Develop model subroutines to predict nitrogen and phosphorus removal in harvested biomass.

3.      Develop models to predict post-senescence field losses of biomass, crop moisture, and nutrients.

4.      Simulate biomass yields and nutrient removal across diverse environmental conditions that can be used for economic analyses.


Methods and Data Collection:

Plots established at three locations (Lane, Stillwater, and Woodward) in Oklahoma during 2010 through a USDA funded project will be used to achieve the project objectives. inOkalhoma to quantify the effects of effect of environment on yield and quality of biomass. Plots will be sampled six times (monthly interval) from May to October during the crop growth period. In the same plots, biomass will be allowed to over winter and sampled three times during this period to estimate nutrient and biomass loss.All samples will be dried at 45 °C and ground through 2” sieve and sent to Chuck West at University of Arkansas for nutrient analysis.


Deliverables and Responsibility

The deliverables from the proposed integrated project under Dr. Kakani’s supervision includegrowth and biomass yield of switchgrass and forage sorghumfive locations in Oklahoma. Dr. Kakani will supervise the graduate student and coordinate the multilocation testing with station superintendents in Oklahoma. Graduate student will be responsible for collecting the growth and physiological data, biomass data, develop thesis, write reports, make presentations, and manuscript publication.

Sungrants sc-Betaseeds

Project Title: Energy Beet as a Potential Bioenergy Crop for the Southern Great Plains     

Project Duration: 2010 – till date



1. Evaluate the yield potential of new lines of energy beets across Oklahoma.

2. Estimate the quantity and quality of sugar in energy beet lines across Oklahoma.


Methods and Data Collection:

Five sugar beet cultivars will be evaluated at five locations (Lane, Chickasha, Stillwater, Woodward, and Goodwell) in Oklahoma to quantify the effects of cultivar and location (climate and soil type) on yield, quantity and quality of sugar and ethanol production. Experiments will be conducted with four replications using suitable experimental design. The plots will be collated along with an ongoing USDA study evaluating cellulosic feedstocks. Data on phenology, physiological processes (leaf chlorophyll, leaf photosynthesis, and chlorophyll fluorescence) will be measured at frequent intervals (4 times at 15 d intervals) during growing season. At maturity data on component dry weights (leaves, stems and root) and root diameter and length will be recorded. In addition, the sugar composition analyses for root and its ethanol production efficiency will be evaluated.


Deliverables and Responsibility

This research will deliver improved understanding on suitability of sugar beet for ethanol production and as a potential biofuel crop in Oklahoma. The study will also generate baseline data for future proposals on bioenergy. This research will be conducted in Department of Plant and Soil Science under the supervision of Dr. Gopal Kakani. Dr. Kakani will collaborate with scientists in PSS (Dr. Chad Godsey) and BAE (Drs. Dani Bellmer and Mike Buser) and BetaSeedInc technical staff (Craig Talley and Steve Libsack) for management, harvest, and fermentation studies. 


Title: NSF-EPSCoR/OSU Research Start-up Package for New Faculty Position in Biofuel Feedstock Production and Improvement

Project Period: 2008-2009

Objectives and Methods
1) Develop best management practices for bioenergy crop production.
2) Evaluate physiological responses of bioenergy crops to abiotic stresses.
3) Identify traits for enhanced biomass yield potential and biomass quality/suitability for bioenergy production.

4) Developing decision support tools for bioenergy crop production.













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