Logging and mill residues are currently the largest sources of woody biomass for bioenergy in the US, but short-rotation woody crops (SRWCs) are expected to become a larger contributor to biomass production, primarily on lands marginal for food production. However, there are very few studies on the environmental effects of SRWCs, and most have been conducted at stand rather than at watershed scales.
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The objective of this research project was to assess whether standard forestry best management practices (BMPs) are sufficient to protect stream water quality from intensive silviculture associated with short-rotation woody crop (SRWC) production for bioenergy. Forestry BMPs are designed to prevent the movement of deleterious quantities of nutrients, herbicides, sediments, and thermal energy (sunlight hitting stream channels) from clear-cuts and plantations to surface waters.
For analyzing sustainability of algal biofuels, we identify 16 environmental indicators that fall into six categories: soil quality, water quality and quantity, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, and productivity. Indicators are selected to be practical, widely applicable, predictable in response, anticipatory of future changes, independent of scale, and responsive to management.
A global energy crop productivity model that provides geospatially explicit quantitative details on biomass
potential and factors affecting sustainability would be useful, but does not exist now. This study describes a
modeling platform capable of meeting many challenges associated with global-scale agro-ecosystem modeling.
We designed an analytical framework for bioenergy crops consisting of six major components: (i) standardized
natural resources datasets, (ii) global field-trial data and crop management practices, (iii) simulation units and