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Title: Investigating the Efficacy of Integrating Energy Crops into Non-Profitable Subfields in Iowa

Abstract

We present that within-field spatial variability reduces growers’ return on investment and overall productivity while potentially increasing negative environmental impacts through increased soil erosion, nutrient runoff, and leaching. The hypothesis that integrating energy crops into non-profitable segments of agricultural fields could potentially increase grain yield and biomass feedstock production was tested in this study using a statewide analysis of predominantly corn- and soy-producing counties in Iowa. Basic and rigorous controls on permissible soil and soil-carbon losses were imposed on harvest of crop residues to enhance year-to-year sustainability of crop and residue production. Additional criteria limiting harvesting costs and focus on large-area subfields for biomass production were imposed to reduce the impacts of energy crop integration on grain production. Model simulations were conducted using 4 years (2013–2016) of soil, weather, crop yield, and management practice data on all counties in Iowa. Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), and crop-residue-based bioenergy feedstock systems were evaluated as biomass. Average energy crop and plant residue harvesting efficiencies were estimated at 50 and 60%, respectively. Because of higher potential yields, average logistics costs for miscanthus-based biomass production were 15 and 23% lower than switchgrass-based and crop residue-based biomass productions, respectively, under basic sustainability controls,more » and 17 and 26% lower under rigorous sustainability controls. Lastly, subfield shape, size, area, and harvest equipment size were the dominant factors influencing harvesting cost and efficiency suggesting that in areas where subfields are predominantly profitable or harvesting efficiencies low, other options such as prairie strips, buffer zones around fields, and riparian areas should be investigated for more profitable biomass production and sustainable farming systems.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1];  [2]; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. Idaho National Lab. (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States). Bioenergy Technologies, Clean Energy and Transportation Science & Technology, EES&T Division
  2. AgSolver, Inc., Ames, IA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Idaho National Lab. (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Bioenergy Technologies Office (EE-3B)
OSTI Identifier:
1478466
Report Number(s):
INL/JOU-17-44011-Rev000
Journal ID: ISSN 1939-1234
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC07-05ID14517
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
BioEnergy Research
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 11; Journal Issue: 3; Journal ID: ISSN 1939-1234
Publisher:
Springer
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
09 BIOMASS FUELS; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Landscape Environmental Assessment Framework; LEAF; biomass; energy crops; switchgrass; miscanthus; feedstock; herbaceous biomass; logistics cost; bioenergy; variability; harvesting cost; harvesting efficiency

Citation Formats

Nair, Shyam K., Griffel, L. Michael, Hartley, Damon S., McNunn, Gabe S., and Kunz, M. Ross. Investigating the Efficacy of Integrating Energy Crops into Non-Profitable Subfields in Iowa. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1007/s12155-018-9925-0.
Nair, Shyam K., Griffel, L. Michael, Hartley, Damon S., McNunn, Gabe S., & Kunz, M. Ross. Investigating the Efficacy of Integrating Energy Crops into Non-Profitable Subfields in Iowa. United States. doi:10.1007/s12155-018-9925-0.
Nair, Shyam K., Griffel, L. Michael, Hartley, Damon S., McNunn, Gabe S., and Kunz, M. Ross. Tue . "Investigating the Efficacy of Integrating Energy Crops into Non-Profitable Subfields in Iowa". United States. doi:10.1007/s12155-018-9925-0. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1478466.
@article{osti_1478466,
title = {Investigating the Efficacy of Integrating Energy Crops into Non-Profitable Subfields in Iowa},
author = {Nair, Shyam K. and Griffel, L. Michael and Hartley, Damon S. and McNunn, Gabe S. and Kunz, M. Ross},
abstractNote = {We present that within-field spatial variability reduces growers’ return on investment and overall productivity while potentially increasing negative environmental impacts through increased soil erosion, nutrient runoff, and leaching. The hypothesis that integrating energy crops into non-profitable segments of agricultural fields could potentially increase grain yield and biomass feedstock production was tested in this study using a statewide analysis of predominantly corn- and soy-producing counties in Iowa. Basic and rigorous controls on permissible soil and soil-carbon losses were imposed on harvest of crop residues to enhance year-to-year sustainability of crop and residue production. Additional criteria limiting harvesting costs and focus on large-area subfields for biomass production were imposed to reduce the impacts of energy crop integration on grain production. Model simulations were conducted using 4 years (2013–2016) of soil, weather, crop yield, and management practice data on all counties in Iowa. Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), and crop-residue-based bioenergy feedstock systems were evaluated as biomass. Average energy crop and plant residue harvesting efficiencies were estimated at 50 and 60%, respectively. Because of higher potential yields, average logistics costs for miscanthus-based biomass production were 15 and 23% lower than switchgrass-based and crop residue-based biomass productions, respectively, under basic sustainability controls, and 17 and 26% lower under rigorous sustainability controls. Lastly, subfield shape, size, area, and harvest equipment size were the dominant factors influencing harvesting cost and efficiency suggesting that in areas where subfields are predominantly profitable or harvesting efficiencies low, other options such as prairie strips, buffer zones around fields, and riparian areas should be investigated for more profitable biomass production and sustainable farming systems.},
doi = {10.1007/s12155-018-9925-0},
journal = {BioEnergy Research},
number = 3,
volume = 11,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {6}
}

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