TITLE

Sustainable bioenergy production from marginal lands in the US Midwest

AUTHOR(S)
Gelfand, Ilya; Sahajpal, Ritvik; Zhang, Xuesong; Izaurralde, R. César; Gross, Katherine L.; Robertson, G. Philip
PUB. DATE
January 2013
SOURCE
Nature;1/24/2013, Vol. 493 Issue 7433, p514
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Legislation on biofuels production in the USA and Europe is directing food crops towards the production of grain-based ethanol, which can have detrimental consequences for soil carbon sequestration, nitrous oxide emissions, nitrate pollution, biodiversity and human health. An alternative is to grow lignocellulosic (cellulosic) crops on 'marginal' lands. Cellulosic feedstocks can have positive environmental outcomes and could make up a substantial proportion of future energy portfolios. However, the availability of marginal lands for cellulosic feedstock production, and the resulting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, remains uncertain. Here we evaluate the potential for marginal lands in ten Midwestern US states to produce sizeable amounts of biomass and concurrently mitigate GHG emissions. In a comparative assessment of six alternative cropping systems over 20 years, we found that successional herbaceous vegetation, once well established, has a direct GHG emissions mitigation capacity that rivals that of purpose-grown crops (?851?±?46 grams of CO2 equivalent emissions per square metre per year (gCO2e?m?2?yr?1)). If fertilized, these communities have the capacity to produce about 63?±?5 gigajoules of ethanol energy per hectare per year. By contrast, an adjacent, no-till corn-soybean-wheat rotation produces on average 41?±?1 gigajoules of biofuel energy per hectare per year and has a net direct mitigation capacity of ?397?±?32?gCO2e?m?2?yr?1; a continuous corn rotation would probably produce about 62?±?7 gigajoules of biofuel energy per hectare per year, with 13% less mitigation. We also perform quantitative modelling of successional vegetation on marginal lands in the region at a resolution of 0.4 hectares, constrained by the requirement that each modelled location be within 80 kilometres of a potential biorefinery. Our results suggest that such vegetation could produce about 21 gigalitres of ethanol per year from around 11 million hectares, or approximately 25 per cent of the 2022 target for cellulosic biofuel mandated by the US Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, with no initial carbon debt nor the indirect land-use costs associated with food-based biofuels. Other regional-scale aspects of biofuel sustainability, such as water quality and biodiversity, await future study.
ACCESSION #
85039154

 

Related Articles

  • Projection of corn production and stover-harvesting impacts on soil organic carbon dynamics in the U.S. Temperate Prairies. Wu, Yiping; Liu, Shuguang; Young, Claudia J.; Dahal, Devendra; Sohl, Terry L.; Davis, Brian // Scientific Reports;6/5/2015, p10830 

    Terrestrial carbon sequestration potential is widely considered as a realistic option for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. However, this potential may be threatened by global changes including climate, land use, and management changes such as increased corn stover harvesting for rising...

  • Managing Tiwi fires for greenhouse gas abatement. McKaige, Barbara // Ecos;Dec2009/Jan2010, Issue 152, p33 

    The article reports on the collaborative fire project, which focuses on the economic potential of carbon, in the Tiwi Islands, Northern Territory. The Tiwi Land Council Rangers, Tiwi College and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) are exploring livelihood...

  • Effectiveness and efficiency of climate change mitigation in a technologically uncertain World. Kanudia, Amit; Labriet, Maryse; Loulou, Richard // Climatic Change;Apr2014, Vol. 123 Issue 3/4, p543 

    Following a multi-scenario framework based on the technology assumptions proposed by the 27th Energy Modeling Forum (EMF-27), our analysis focuses on analyzing the impacts of key technology assumptions on climate policies, including the interdependencies of different technological options. Each...

  • Greenhouse gas mitigation with scarce land: The potential contribution of increased nitrogen input. Meyer-Aurich, Andreas; Olesen, Jørgen; Prochnow, Annette; Brunsch, Reiner // Mitigation & Adaptation Strategies for Global Change;Oct2013, Vol. 18 Issue 7, p921 

    Agricultural lands have been identified to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions primarily by production of energy crops and substituting fossil energy resources and through carbon sequestration in soils. Increased fertilizer input resulting in increased yields may reduce the area needed for...

  • Greenhouse Gas Potentials of Shrub Willow Biomass Crops Based on Below- and Aboveground Biomass Inventory Along a 19-Year Chronosequence. Pacaldo, Renato; Volk, Timothy; Briggs, Russell // BioEnergy Research;Mar2013, Vol. 6 Issue 1, p252 

    Shrub willow biomass crops (SWBC) have been developed as a biomass feedstock for bioenergy, biofuels, and bioproducts in the northeastern and midwestern USA as well as in Europe. A previous life cycle analysis in North America showed that the SWBC production system is a low-carbon fuel source....

  • REDUCING EMISSIONS.  // New Scientist;4/2/2011, Vol. 210 Issue 2806, pii 

    The article mentions that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a strategy that is needed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and protect the global environment and notes the cost effectiveness of CCS that was determined by the International Energy Agency.

  • THE CASE FOR CARBON CAPTURE.  // New Scientist;4/2/2011, Vol. 210 Issue 2806, piii 

    Brief information is given about carbon capture and storage (CCS) of carbon dioxide emissions and CCS' role in preventing global climate change and acidification of the oceans.

  • Biodiversity for multifunctional grasslands: equal productivity in high-diversity low-input and low-diversity high-input systems. Weigelt, A.; Weisser, W. W.; Buchmann, N.; Scherer-Lorenzen, M. // Biogeosciences Discussions;2009, Vol. 6 Issue 2, p3187 

    Modern grassland management seeks to provide many ecosystem services and experimental studies in resource-poor grasslands have shown a positive relationship between plant species richness and a variety of ecosystem functions. Thus, increasing species richness might help to enhance...

  • The impact of technology availability on the timing and costs of emission reductions for achieving long-term climate targets. Vliet, Jasper; Hof, Andries; Mendoza Beltran, Angelica; Berg, Maarten; Deetman, Sebastiaan; Elzen, Michel; Lucas, Paul; Vuuren, Detlef // Climatic Change;Apr2014, Vol. 123 Issue 3/4, p559 

    While most long-term mitigation scenario studies build on a broad portfolio of mitigation technologies, there is quite some uncertainty about the availability and reduction potential of these technologies. This study explores the impacts of technology limitations on greenhouse gas emission...

Share

Read the Article

Courtesy of THE LIBRARY OF VIRGINIA

Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics