Location: Natural Resource Management Research2013 Annual Report
1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
1) Improve current decision making capabilities by building robust data on current practices existing agricultural systems where biomass production could be incorporated (Temple, Parlier, Mandan, Riverside); 2) Create management plans to optimize yield and stability of feedstock production (Temple, Palier, Mandan; 3) Optimize biomass stability and yield while minimizing environmental impacts at greater than field scales (Temple, Parlier, Mandan); and 4) Improve water and air resource management and optimize biomass production for other production areas in the Hawaiian Islands, Pacific Basin, and western United States (Temple, Parlier, Mandan, Hilo).
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Objective 1: Develop spatial and temporal data sets from historic data for baseline analyses. Objective 2: Simulate current management impacts on feedstock yields and resource inputs. Objective 3: Demonstrate applicability of simulation approaches with validated present practices and explore watershed scale impacts of changes. Objective 4: Improve decision support for assessment of resource conditions, and utilize parallel computing and deep hydrology water balance as needed.
3. Progress Report:
Four focus groups were held in Mandan and Minot North Dakota, Wellington, Kansas and Enid, Oklahoma, all areas with histories of some canola production. The respondents were identified by the local extension educators/agents using quota sampling techniques. All had substantial wheat production and of those some had grown or were growing canola. The purpose of the focus groups was to assess the facilitators and barriers to growing canola or other brassicas for aviation fuel in each context: northern North Dakota, central North Dakota, southern Kansas, and northern Oklahoma. Two surveys have been initiated by collaborators to meet the objectives of the agreement. The first survey examined outreach and extension efforts to farmers about feedstocks for biofuel production. Particular emphasis was placed on oilseed feedstocks suitable for the western United States. The information provided from the survey will help to guide extension and outreach activities for the project and to help educate agricultural professionals, agribusiness and farmers in adoption of biofuel feedstocks and production. The second survey was developed to examine farmers’ cropping decisions and interest in growing oilseed crops for bioenergy production. The information provided by the survey will help guide industry and policymakers about the potential for oilseed production for bioenergy; assist industry with contracting with farmers; provide knowledge on the suitability of oilseed crop options in different regions in the western U.S. The survey was sent out in April to June 2013. Data from the survey is currently being compiled and cleaned by a third party. An initial dataset is expected to be compiled by the end of July, 2013. A significant component of the survey is a stated choice experiment. The experiment was designed to assess farmers’ reactions to different oilseed characteristics (e.g. shatter resistance, pest tolerance and resistance, winter hardiness and effects of direct combining) and contract/market attributes (net returns under the contract, length of the contract, crop insurance availability, cost share assistance, and presence of an “Act of God” clause). The results from this part of the study will help to guide plant breeding research; market development initiatives; and effects on agricultural land usage. A significant deliverable from the survey was a fact sheet about oilseed production for bioenergy that was sent out with each survey. Thus, over 10,000 farmers have been provided some information about oilseed production opportunities and biofuel production. Three pilot counties, one in each primary wheat producing region of the U.S. (northern Great Plains, central Great Plains, and inland Pacific Northwest), were identified for crop simulation modeling and field scale economic analysis. Initial crop management data and enterprise budgets are being constructed for each pilot county, and preliminary crop simulation model runs are being conducted for the first of these counties. Enterprise budget information is being compiled in a standardized format necessary for linkage to a national scale economic model (POLYSYS) to analyze national and regional economic impacts. Published yield trial data have been compiled for use in model calibration and validation. A data portal has been set up by the National Agricultural Library to facilitate data exchange between project components and eventual delivery of project results.