Determination of Energy Content of Crop and Cover Crop Biomass
Crop Production Systems Research Unit
2011 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Thermodynamically measure the energy content of crops, cover crops, and crop residue for potential carbon sequestration or utility as biofuels or soil amendments.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Cover crops and cash crops will be grown and plant residue harvested. The dried plant materials will be ground. Energy content of all plant materials will be determined in a bomb calorimeter. Energy content and carbon content production will be determined on a land area basis for potential use as biofuels or soil amendments to improve soil organic carbon content. Carbon sequestration potential of the various crops and cover crops will be calculated.
Calorific values of agricultural crops and their waste were measured by adiabatic bomb calorimetry. Sustainable farming techniques require that all potential sources of revenue be utilized. A wide variety of biomass is beginning to be used as alternative fuels all over the world. The energy potential of low value crops and crop residue has the capacity of making a small farm self sustaining in times of low market value. The caloric value of all portions of the crop product was measured individually to evaluate its potential as an energy source. Rice, corn, soybeans, cotton, wheat, rye, and sweet potatoes were included in this study. All crops were grown and harvested under the care of scientists at the USDA-ARS Research Center in Stoneville, MS. Additional parameters evaluated were moisture content, density, and ash content. The experimental results, with caloric values exceeding 16 kJ g-1, make it feasible to use these materials as alternative fuels. The research resulted in a presentation by students at the annual Mississippi Academy of Science meeting. Monitoring of research progress under this cooperative agreement is performed through regular meetings of the principle investigators. Information on procedures and findings is exchanged through e-mails and phone conversations. On-site meetings are held to exchange information and outline plans for future research.