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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Soil, Water & Air Resources Research » Research » Research Project #432464

Research Project: Woody Bioenergy Feedstock from Marginal Agricultural Lands: Red Cedar Feedstock Quality and Environmental Sustainability

Location: Soil, Water & Air Resources Research

Project Number: 5030-11610-005-66-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Dec 1, 2016
End Date: Jul 31, 2019

Evaluate the potential of eastern red cedar as a biofuel feedstock produced on marginal lands in the North Central Region. The project team will investigate several critical aspects necessary to accurately assess the bioenergy potential of red cedar in the North Central Region including 1) characterizing and assessing the feedstock quality of red cedar bioconversion; 2) develop a field-level financial appraisal to identify the potential profitability of a marginal land woody system; 3) utilize an available land productivity interpretation tool to quantify the extent and distribution of marginal agricultural lands; 4) test and refine current tree biomass estimation equations to improve standing red cedar biomass estimates; 5) measure soil organic carbon content and related soil quality parameters beneath existing red cedar plantings; and 6) compare observed tree growth and site characteristics (soil and climate) with model predictions to enable regional estimates of potential carbon sequestration.

Red cedar tree plantings in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska will will selected for biomass sample collection and soil characterization. Biomass samples will be evaluated for biofuel production potential. Soil samples will also be collected at each site to estimate soil carbon sequestration and characterize the soil quality. And economic analysis will be completed to determine the viability of red cedar-based biofuel production. Outreach activities will engage landowners and agricultural and natural resource agency personnel on the potential of growing or harvesting red cedar for biofuel feedstock.