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Title: Improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay using payments for ecosystem services for perennial biomass for bioenergy and biofuel production

Replacing row crops with perennial bioenergy crops may reduce nitrogen (N) loading to surface waters. We estimated the benefits, costs, and potential for replacing maize with switchgrass to meet required N loading reduction targets for the Chesapeake Bay (CB) of 26.9 Gg -1. After subtracting the potential reduction in N loading due to improved N fertilizer practices for maize, a further 22.8 Gg reduction is required. Replacing maize with fertilized switchgrass could reduce N loading to the CB by 18 kg ha -1 y -1, meeting 31% of the N reduction target. The break-even price of fertilized switchgrass to provide the same profit as maize in the CB is 111 $Mg -1 (oven-dry basis throughout). Growers replacing maize with switchgrass could receive an ecosystem service payment of 148 ha -1 based on the price paid in Maryland for planting a rye cover crop. For our estimated average switchgrass yield of 9.9 Mg ha -1, and the greater N loading reduction of switchgrass compared to a cover crop, this equates to 24 dollars Mg -1. The annual cost of this ecosystem service payment to induce switchgrass planting is 13.29 dollars kg -1 of N. Using the POLYSYS model to account formore » competition among food, feed, and biomass markets, we found that with the ecosystem service payment for switchgrass of 25 $ Mg -1 added to a farm-gate price of 111 dollars Mg -1, 11% of the N loading reduction target could be met while also producing 1.3 Tg of switchgrass, potentially yielding 420 dam 3 y -1 of ethanol.« less
ORCiD logo [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (United States)
  2. Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park, PA (United States)
  3. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
AC05-00OR22725; 2012-68005-19703; RD835568
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Biomass and Bioenergy
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 114; Journal ID: ISSN 0961-9534
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
09 BIOMASS FUELS; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Biofuel; Switchgrass; Watershed; Nitrogen; Maize; Water quality
OSTI Identifier: