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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.

Natalie A. Griffiths , Benjamin M. Rau , Kellie B. Vache , Gregory Starr , Menberu M. Bitew , Doug P. Aubrey , James A. Martin , Elizabeth Benton , C. Rhett Jackson
Funded from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Bioenergy Technologies Office.

Corn’s (Zea mays L.) stover is a potential nonfood, herbaceous bioenergy feedstock. A vital aspect of utilizing stover for bioenergy production is to establish sustainable harvest criteria that avoid exacerbating soil erosion or degrading soil organic carbon (SOC) levels. Our goal is to empirically estimate the minimum residue return rate required to sustain SOC levels at numerous locations and to identify which macroscale factors affect empirical estimates.

Jane M. F. Johnson , Jeffrey M. Novak , Gary E. Varvel , Diane E. Stott , Shannon L. Osborne , Douglas L. Karlen , John A. Lamb , John Baker , Paul R. Adler

To prepare for a 2014 launch of commercial scale cellulosic ethanol production from corn/maize (Zea mays L.) stover, POET-DSM near Emmetsburg, IA has been working with farmers, researchers, and equipment dealers through “Project Liberty” on harvest, transportation, and storage logistics of corn stover for the past several years. Our objective was to evaluate seven stover harvest strategies within a 50-ha (125 acres) site on very deep, moderately well to poorly drained Mollisols, developed in calcareous glacial till.

Stuart J. Birrell , Douglas L. Karlen , Adam Wirt

Agricultural residues have been identified as a significant potential resource for bioenergy production, but serious questions remain about the sustainability of harvesting residues. Agricultural residues play an important role in limiting soil erosion from wind and water and in maintaining soil organic carbon. Because of this, multiple factors must be considered when assessing sustainable residue harvest limits.

D. Muth, Jr. , K.M. Bryden

Corn (Zea mays L.) stover is a potential bioenergy feedstock, but little is known about the impacts of reducing stover return on yield and soil quality in the Northern US Corn Belt. Our study objectives were to measure the impact of three stover return rates (Full (~7.8 Mg ha−1 yr−1), Moderate (~3.8 Mg ha−1 yr−1) or Low (~1.5 Mg ha yr−1) Return) on corn and soybean (Glycine max. L [Merr.]) yields and on soil dynamic properties on a chisel-tilled (Chisel) field, and well- (NT1995) or newly- (NT2005) established no-till managed fields.

Jane M. F. Johnson , Veronica Acosta-Martinez , Cynthia A. Cambardella , Nancy W. Barbour

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

Funded from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Bioenergy Technologies Office.

Net benefits of bioenergy crops, including maize and perennial grasses such as switchgrass, are a function of several factors including the soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestered by these crops. Life cycle assessments (LCA) for bioenergy crops have been conducted using models in which SOC information is usually from the top 30 to 40 cm. Information on the effects of crop management practices on SOC has been limited so LCA models have largely not included any management practice effects.

Ronald F. Follett , Kenneth P. Vogel , Gary E. Varvel , Robert B. Mitchell , John Kimble

The harvest of corn stover or herbaceous crops as feedstocks for bioenergy purposes has been shown to have significant benefits from energy and climate change perspectives. There is a potential, however, to adversely impact water and soil quality, especially in Midwestern states where the biomass feedstock production would predominantly occur.

Nelson, Richard

National interests in greater energy independence, concurrent with favorable market forces, have driven increased production of corn-based ethanol in the United States and research into the next generation of biofuels. The trend is changing the national agricultural landscape and has raised concerns about potential impacts on the nation?s water resources. This report examines some of the key issues and identifies opportunities for shaping policies that help to protect water resources.

Schnoor, Jerald