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Title: Watershed-scale impacts of bioenergy crops on hydrology and water quality using improved SWAT model

Cellulosic bioenergy feedstock such as perennial grasses and crop residues are expected to play a significant role in meeting US biofuel production targets. Here, we used an improved version of the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to forecast impacts on watershed hydrology and water quality by implementing an array of plausible land-use changes associated with commercial bioenergy crop production for two watersheds in the Midwest USA. Watershed-scale impacts were estimated for 13 bioenergy crop production scenarios, including: production of Miscanthus 9 giganteus and upland Shawnee switchgrass on highly erodible landscape positions, agricultural marginal land areas and pastures, removal of corn stover and combinations of these options. We also measured water quality as erosion and sediment loading; this was forecasted to improve compared to baseline when perennial grasses were used for bioenergy production, but not with stover removal scenarios. Erosion reduction with perennial energy crop production scenarios ranged between 0.2% and 59%. Stream flow at the watershed outlet was reduced between 0 and 8% across these bioenergy crop production scenarios compared to baseline across the study watersheds. Our results indicate that bioenergy production scenarios that incorporate perennial grasses reduced the nonpoint source pollutant load at the watershed outlet compared tomore » the baseline conditions (0–20% for nitrate-nitrogen and 3–56% for mineral phosphorus); but, the reduction rates were specific to site characteristics and management practices.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [2] ;  [2]
  1. Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN (United States). Dept. of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
  2. Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN (United States). Dept. of Agronomy
  3. Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN (United States). Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Dept. of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
EE0004396; 2009-51130-06029
Published Article
Journal Name:
Global Change Biology. Bioenergy
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 8; Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 1757-1693
Research Org:
Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States
09 BIOMASS FUELS; bioenergy production; corn stover; environmental impacts of bioenergy; impacts of bioenergy; Miscanthus; SWAT Model; Switchgrass
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1256139; OSTI ID: 1363861