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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Morris, Minnesota » Soil Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #224821

Title: Recognizing and reducing environmental risks to improve the benefits of bioenergy

item Johnson, Jane
item Wilhelm, Wallace
item Franzluebbers, Alan
item Karlen, Douglas

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/9/2008
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Technology is rapidly advancing to utilize a diverse array of biomass feedstock (e.g., nongrain crop biomass, herbaceous and woody perennials) for producing ethanol via a cellulosic platform and/or utilizing pyrolysis to generate syngas and other products/co-products. Utilization of biomass for energy creates opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the nation’s dependency on foreign oil imports and create a C-neutral bioenergy sector. However, utilization of biomass for energy could place additional stress on soil and water resources to be able to supply sufficient food, feed, fiber and fuel. It is imperative to protect and improve soil productivity during this potential era of bioenergy production. Many characteristics of high quality soils can be related to the quantity and quality of soil organic matter (organic carbon). Numerous soil physical, chemical and biological properties could be threatened by the removal of too much crop biomass. The amount of biomass needed to prevent loss of soil organic carbon exceeds that needed to control erosion. Sustainable biomass harvest for bioenergy requires strategies to maintain soil organic carbon, which might be achieved by setting limits on crop residue harvest rate, including more perennial vegetation in crop rotations and planting cover crops whenever possible. [REAP Publication]