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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Corvallis, Oregon » Forage Seed and Cereal Research » Research » Research Project #432857

Research Project: Juniper Biomass Optimization Project (JuBOP): Optimizing Juniper Utilization for Bioenergy and Biobased Products and Sageland Steppe Restoration

Location: Forage Seed and Cereal Research

Project Number: 2072-21410-004-12-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2016
End Date: May 31, 2019

Objective:
1. Optimize juniper biomass feedstock collection for economic and habitat and range restoration goals. 2. Evaluate trade-offs of using mobile vs. stationary facilities for bioenergy production. 3. Evaluate the benefits of juniper-based biochar as an amendment to rangeland soils.

Approach:
The course-scale mapping of juniper of successional phases 1, 2 and 3 has been completed; however, the finer-scale work of connecting supply to road networks and potential processing sites remains to be done. In objective 1, we aim to rank all juniper sites in Oregon according to their a) suitability for restoration and b) their suitability for utilization based on vegetation composition, juniper biomass, and location. We will assess the quantity of juniper volume available as a function of volume per acre, tree size, topography, distance from road, and distance to market. Given the dispersed nature of juniper woodlands and the lack of existing infrastructure, we will compare the use of a mobile pyrolysis unit to produce energy and biochar, with a stationary facility. The analysis proposed in objective 2 will evaluate the economic costs and opportunities in each system, including the types and quantities of bioenergy and bioproducts that can be produced. We will also consider opportunities to utilize bioenergy to lower the cost associated with bioproduct production. The decision support model will optimize the value of the harvested juniper by allocating the biomass to the combination of products that yield the highest value. In Objective 3, we propose to characterize the juniper biochars produced from mobile and stationary facilities, and evaluate their impacts on moisture, pH, nutrient availability, and plant growth, in arid agricultural systems. We will also characterize the economic and environmental value of juniper-based biochar applications to agricultural soils.