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Title: Evaluating the Potential of Marginal Land for Cellulosic Feedstock Production and Carbon Sequestration in the United States

Land availability for growing feedstocks at scale is a crucial concern for the bioenergy industry. Feedstock production on land not well-suited to growing conventional crops, or marginal land, is often promoted as ideal, although there is a poor understanding of the qualities, quantity, and distribution of marginal lands in the United States. In this paper, we examine the spatial distribution of land complying with several key marginal land definitions at the United States county, agro-ecological zone, and national scales, and compare the ability of both marginal land and land cover data sets to identify regions for feedstock production. We conclude that very few land parcels comply with multiple definitions of marginal land. Furthermore, to examine possible carbon-flow implications of feedstock production on land that could be considered marginal per multiple definitions, we model soil carbon changes upon transitions from marginal cropland, grassland, and cropland–pastureland to switchgrass production for three marginal land-rich counties. Finally, our findings suggest that total soil organic carbon changes per county are small, and generally positive, and can influence life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of switchgrass ethanol.
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ; ORCiD logo [3]
  1. Air Force Inst. of Technology, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH (United States). Dept. of Systems Engineering and Management
  2. Univ. of Illinois, Chicago, IL (United States). Energy Resources Center
  3. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States). Energy Systems Division
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
AC02-06CH11357
Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Environmental Science and Technology
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 51; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 0013-936X
Publisher:
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Research Org:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Bioenergy Technologies Office (EE-3B)
Contributing Orgs:
Univ. of Illinois, Chicago, IL (United States); Air Force Inst. of Technology, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 09 BIOMASS FUELS
OSTI Identifier:
1349063