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Title: Land management change greatly impacts biofuels’ greenhouse gas emissions

Abstract

Harvesting corn stover for biofuel production may decrease soil organic carbon (SOC) and increase greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Adding additional organic matter into soil or reducing tillage intensity, however, could potentially offset this SOC loss. Here, by using SOC and life cycle analysis (LCA) models, we evaluated the impacts of land management change (LMC), i.e., stover removal, organic matter addition, and tillage on spatially explicit SOC level and biofuels’ overall life-cycle GHG emissions in U.S. corn-soybean production systems. Results indicate that under conventional tillage (CT), 30% stover removal (dry weight) may reduce SOC by 0.04 t C ha-1yr-1 over a 30-year simulation period. Growing a cover crop during the fallow season or applying manure, on the other hand, could add to SOC and further reduce biofuels’ life-cycle GHG emissions. With 30% stover removal in a CT system, cover crop and manure application can increase SOC at the national level by about 0.06 and 0.02 t C ha-1yr-1, respectively, compared to cases without such measures. With contributions from this SOC increase, the life-cycle GHG emissions for stover ethanol are more than 80% lower than those of gasoline, exceeding the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard mandate of 60% emissions reduction for cellulosic biofuels.more » Reducing tillage intensity while removing stover could also limit SOC loss or lead to SOC gain, which would lower stover ethanol life-cycle GHG emissions to near or under the mandated 60% reduction. Without these organic matter inputs or reduced tillage intensity, however, the emissions will not meet this mandate. More efforts are still required to further identify key practical LMCs, improve SOC modeling, and accounting for LMCs in biofuel LCAs that incorporate stover removal.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [1];  [1];  [2];  [3];  [1];  [4];  [1]
  1. Energy Systems Division, Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 South Cass Avenue Argonne IL 60439 USA
  2. Energy Resources Center, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1309 South Halsted Street Chicago IL 60607 USA
  3. Environment and Production Technology Division, International Food Policy Research Institute, 2033 K St. NW Washington DC 20006 USA
  4. Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1102 South Goodwin Avenue Urbana IL 61801 USA
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
OSTI Identifier:
1459666
DOE Contract Number:  
AC02-06CH11357
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Global Change Biology. Bioenergy
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 10; Journal Issue: 6; Journal ID: ISSN 1757-1693
Publisher:
Wiley
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English

Citation Formats

Qin, Zhangcai, Canter, Christina E., Dunn, Jennifer B., Mueller, Steffen, Kwon, Hoyoung, Han, Jeongwoo, Wander, Michelle M., and Wang, Michael. Land management change greatly impacts biofuels’ greenhouse gas emissions. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1111/gcbb.12500.
Qin, Zhangcai, Canter, Christina E., Dunn, Jennifer B., Mueller, Steffen, Kwon, Hoyoung, Han, Jeongwoo, Wander, Michelle M., & Wang, Michael. Land management change greatly impacts biofuels’ greenhouse gas emissions. United States. doi:10.1111/gcbb.12500.
Qin, Zhangcai, Canter, Christina E., Dunn, Jennifer B., Mueller, Steffen, Kwon, Hoyoung, Han, Jeongwoo, Wander, Michelle M., and Wang, Michael. Thu . "Land management change greatly impacts biofuels’ greenhouse gas emissions". United States. doi:10.1111/gcbb.12500.
@article{osti_1459666,
title = {Land management change greatly impacts biofuels’ greenhouse gas emissions},
author = {Qin, Zhangcai and Canter, Christina E. and Dunn, Jennifer B. and Mueller, Steffen and Kwon, Hoyoung and Han, Jeongwoo and Wander, Michelle M. and Wang, Michael},
abstractNote = {Harvesting corn stover for biofuel production may decrease soil organic carbon (SOC) and increase greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Adding additional organic matter into soil or reducing tillage intensity, however, could potentially offset this SOC loss. Here, by using SOC and life cycle analysis (LCA) models, we evaluated the impacts of land management change (LMC), i.e., stover removal, organic matter addition, and tillage on spatially explicit SOC level and biofuels’ overall life-cycle GHG emissions in U.S. corn-soybean production systems. Results indicate that under conventional tillage (CT), 30% stover removal (dry weight) may reduce SOC by 0.04 t C ha-1yr-1 over a 30-year simulation period. Growing a cover crop during the fallow season or applying manure, on the other hand, could add to SOC and further reduce biofuels’ life-cycle GHG emissions. With 30% stover removal in a CT system, cover crop and manure application can increase SOC at the national level by about 0.06 and 0.02 t C ha-1yr-1, respectively, compared to cases without such measures. With contributions from this SOC increase, the life-cycle GHG emissions for stover ethanol are more than 80% lower than those of gasoline, exceeding the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard mandate of 60% emissions reduction for cellulosic biofuels. Reducing tillage intensity while removing stover could also limit SOC loss or lead to SOC gain, which would lower stover ethanol life-cycle GHG emissions to near or under the mandated 60% reduction. Without these organic matter inputs or reduced tillage intensity, however, the emissions will not meet this mandate. More efforts are still required to further identify key practical LMCs, improve SOC modeling, and accounting for LMCs in biofuel LCAs that incorporate stover removal.},
doi = {10.1111/gcbb.12500},
journal = {Global Change Biology. Bioenergy},
issn = {1757-1693},
number = 6,
volume = 10,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {2}
}