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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: REDESIGNING FORAGE GERMPLASM AND PRODUCTION SYSTEMS FOR EFFICIENCY, PROFIT, AND SUSTAINABILITY OF DAIRY FARMS Title: The benefits of harvesting wetland invaders for cellulosic biofuel: an ecosystem services perspective

Authors
item Jakubowksi, Andrew -
item CASLER, MICHAEL
item Jackson, Randy -

Submitted to: Restoration Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 2, 2010
Publication Date: October 21, 2010
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/56819
Citation: Jakubowksi, A., Casler, M.D., Jackson, R. 2010. The benefits of harvesting wetland invaders for cellulosic biofuel: an ecosystem services perspective. Restoration Ecology. 18:789-795.

Interpretive Summary: The growing interest in cellulosic biofuel production has led the call for alternative cropping systems that maximize production and also provide ecosystem services such as removal of invasive plants or restoration of native plants. We evaluated the potential for biomass harvested from invaded wetlands to achieve these goals. The ecosystem service tradeoffs associated with a wetland invader harvest were evaluated followed by a case study estimating the energy production and nutrient removal of harvesting reed canarygrass from invaded wetlands in Wisconsin. Estimates for energy production from this single species harvest dwarf current renewable energy sources for the state of Wisconsin and offer the potential to recapture approximately 50 to 200% of the excess nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizer that enters wetlands via surface water runoff. This restoration technique would not only generate income from biomass sales to subsidize the cost of restoration, but has the potential to shift the system towards more desirable environmental conditions by removing excess nutrients annually, reducing downstream eutrophication, and enhancing the ability of more desirable vegetation to establish itself by first removing the litter layer created by the invasive species. This paper contains information relevant to other scientists as well as regulators and policy-makers who are involved with invasive wetland plants and biofuel production.

Technical Abstract: The growing interest in cellulosic biofuel production has led the call for alternative cropping systems that maximize production along with the accompanying regulating, supporting, and cultural ecosystem services. We evaluate the potential for biomass harvested from invaded wetlands to achieve these goals. The ecosystem service tradeoffs associated with a wetland invader harvest are evaluated followed by a case study estimating the energy production and nutrient removal of harvesting Phalaris arundinacea from invaded wetlands in Wisconsin, USA. Estimates for energy production from this single species harvest dwarf current renewable energy sources for the state of Wisconsin and offer the potential to recapture approximately 50 to 200% of the excess nitrogen and phosphorous annually applied as fertilizer. This restoration technique would not only generate income from biomass sales to subsidize the cost of restoration, but has the potential to shift the system towards more desirable environmental conditions by removing nutrients annually, reduce downstream eutrophication, and enhance the ability of more desirable vegetation to establish by removing the litter layer created by the invasive species.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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