Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Model Evaluates Where Bioenergy Crops Grow Best

24.11.2014

Farmers interested in bioenergy crops now have a resource to help them determine which kind of bioenergy crop would grow best in their regions and what kind of harvest to expect.

Researchers at the University of Illinois have published a study identifying yield zones for three major bioenergy crops.


“The unique aspect of our study is that it provides detailed information about where these crops can grow, in terms of their location and stability over time, which has not been done in the past,” said U. of I. atmospheric sciences professor Atul Jain, who led the study with agriculture and consumer economics professor Madhu Khanna.

Although corn has been the main feedstock used for ethanol production, relying solely on corn is not sustainable because of its impacts on the environment and food prices.

Other crops show greater potential for ethanol production, particularly large perennial grasses such as Miscanthus and switchgrass. These grasses yield more ethanol per hectare in the U.S, while needing fewer resources than corn.

“With growing interest in bioenergy crops as a potentially important source of energy, it is crucial to explore high-yielding feedstock sources that could provide abundant biomass for large scale biofuel production and minimize the amount of land diverted from food to fuel production,” Jain said. “The extent to which this goal can be achieved will depend on the biophysical potential of producing bioenergy crops on the available land.”

The Illinois researchers studied three biofuel crops to determine where they would grow best in the United States: Miscanthus and two types of switchgrass, Cave-in-Rock and Alamo. They used a land-surface model called Integrated Science Assessment Model (ISAM), developed in Jain’s lab, which takes into account environmental attributes such as water and temperature, biological properties such as nutrient availability, and the dynamic response of the crops to changes in environmental conditions.

The researchers calibrated and validated the model using experimental data collected at more than 75 sites across the U.S., using the model to determine yields over 10 years. They identified regions likely to continuously produce higher or lower yields for each crop, based on favorable or unfavorable conditions.

For example, Alamo switchgrass has a high, stable yield in the southeastern states, while Miscanthus and Cave-in-Rock switchgrass grow best across the Midwest. Across Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, Miscanthus has about twice the yield of switchgrass, but the yield is unstable, so farmers may have to modify production practices and apply additional resources annually to reduce variability in Miscanthus yields.

The researchers expect that the results of their study, published in the journal BioEnergy Research, will enable farmers to make better decisions about which bioenergy crop to grow. A farmer in the south can look at the maps and see that his area is in the low-yield, unstable zone for Miscanthus, but the high-yield, stable zone for Alamo switchgrass.

Jain said there are many other factors to consider, and the team is working to expand its model to give farmers a more complete picture of the risks and rewards of producing bioenergy crops.

“We want to develop an integrated system that can determine not only the potential yield of these crops, but also the economic cost and variability in returns from their production,” Khanna said. “In some places, farmers may have to invest more to plant these crops. We would like to examine how returns and risks from producing these crops differ across regions.”

The National Science Foundation and the Unites States Department of Agriculture supported this work.
Editor's note: To contact Atul Jain, call 217-333-2128; email jain1@illinois.edu.

The paper, “Estimates of Biomass Yield for Perennial Bioenergy Grasses in the USA,” is available online.

CONTACT: Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor 217-244-1073; eahlberg@illinois.edu.

Liz Ahlberg | University of Illinois

Further reports about: Miscanthus bioenergy bioenergy crops crop crops ethanol production farmers grow regions

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University

nachricht New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>