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Crop Residue Harvest Economics: An Iowa and North Dakota Cast Study

Rigorous economic analyses are crucial for the successful launch of lignocellulosic bioenergy facilities in 2014 and beyond. Our objectives are to (1) introduce readers to a query tool developed to use data downloaded from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) REAPnet for constructing enterprise budgets and (2) demonstrate the use of the query tool with REAPnet data from two field research sites (Ames, IA, and Mandan, ND) for evaluating short-term economic performance of various biofuel feedstock production strategies. Our results for both sites showed that short-term (<3 years) impacts on grain profitability were lower at lower average annual crop residue removal rates. However, it will be important to monitor longer term changes to see if grain profitability declines over time and if biomass harvest degrades soil resources. Analyses for Iowa showed short-term breakeven field-edge biomass prices of $26–$42 Mg−1 among the most efficient strategies, while results for North Dakota showed breakeven prices of $54–$73 Mg−1. We suggest that development of the data query tool is important because it helps illustrate several different soil and crop management strategies that could be used to provide sustainable feedstock supplies.

David W. Archer , Douglas L. Karlen , Mark A. Liebig
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