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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Location: Natural Resource Management Research

Project Number: 3064-21660-003-10-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2012
End Date: Jul 31, 2017

Objective 1: Produce genetically-improved oil seed crops to enhance compatibility of feedstocks with hydro-treated renewable jet (HRJ) fuel conversion processes, and oil yield and quality stability under stressed production conditions. Objective 2: Provide regionalized strategies to guide sustainable oil seed production integration into existing farms in ways that increase farm profitability and rural economic opportunities, while providing biofuel refiners dependable supplies of high quality feedstocks. Objective 3: Develop cost-effective processes to remove crop oil impurities from feedstocks that would otherwise increase pre-treatment costs and reduce conversion efficiency of oils to HRJ fuels. Objective 4: Optimally configure conversion technology with genetically improved seed oil feedstocks and pre-treatment requirements to reduce the cost of HRJ fuels produced. Objective 5: Align community and business stakeholders to promote their economic opportunities though sustainable asset-based development that incorporates HRJ fuel production compatible with available resources. Objective 6: Develop analyses that provide strategic guidance to improve sustainable environmental quality, cost effectiveness, and rural economic development, particularly as biofuel production expands.

The contribution of the ARS SY will be directed at objectives 2 and 6. Objective 2: Published oilseed production data and data collected in long-term multi-location crop rotation studies will be used in a meta-analysis to evaluate the productivity, input use, production costs, and profitability of oilseed production alternatives. These data will be used along with USDA-NASS data to assemble enterprise budgets for region-specific crop rotations including typical rotations for the region as well as rotations that include oilseed production alternatives. The enterprise budgets will be used to evaluate the production costs and breakeven oilseed prices for oilseed production alternatives relative to typical cropping systems for these sites. The data will also be used to evaluate relative fertilizer, pesticide, fuel and labor requirements for the oilseed production alternatives. Probabilistic and economic models will be developed, based on a survey instrument administered to area farmers, to examine: (i) farmers’ willingness to produce alternative oil seed crops for biofuel production under different contractual, market, and production conditions; and (ii) the economic viability at the enterprise level of producing alternative oil seed crops for biofuel production. The probabilistic models of farmers’ willingness to produce will utilize econometric discrete choice techniques to assess the marginal impact of changes in contractual, market and production factors (e.g. contract length, price, input costs) on a farmers likelihood of producing oil seed crops for biofuel production. In addition, the models will be utilized to assess the importance of pertinent demographic, economic, environmental, farm, management, policy, risk and social factors on farmers’ perceptions about oil seed crop and biofuel production. The probabilistic models will be utilized to spatially predict the probability of agricultural producers adopting oil seed enterprises across the agricultural landscape. Coupling the probabilistic models with the break-even prices, will determine adoption premiums above break-even prices that would induce farmers to incorporate oil seed crops into their production systems. Objective 6 will evaluate impacts of expanded biofuel production on the environmental, social, and economic indicators. Production scenarios derived from field studies conducted as part of the project and USDA-NASS aggregated county-level data will be used in the Erosion-Productivity Impact Calculator (EPIC) and Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to produce environmental indicators including soil carbon, soil erosion, and water quality. The model IMPLAN will be customized to include detailed feedstock demand and biofuel production data to estimate regional job creation as a social indicator when introducing renewable jet fuel supply chain components into rural communities. Land-based resource data will be implemented in the USDA-ARS Renewable Energy Assessment Project (REAP) database, building on the existing research data framework that assembles measurement data, measurement methods, landscape, and land management practices.

Last Modified: 05/28/2017
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