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Title: Economic potential for switchgrass production in the U.S. Northern Plains: A minimum-data analysis

item ANTLE, JOHN - Montana State University
item Archer, David
item Hanson, Jonathan

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/10/2007
Publication Date: 9/10/2007
Citation: Antle, J., Archer, D.W., Hanson, J.D. 2007. Economic potential for switchgrass production in the U.S. Northern Plains: A minimum-data analysis. Farming Systems Design Conference, Catania, Siciliy, Italy, September 10-12, 2007. Book 1, p. 140-141.

Interpretive Summary: Switchgrass could potentially be used for ethanol production. Growing switchgrass can also store carbon in the soil, which has environmental benefits. But, farmers will only produce switchgrass if it is profitable. A minimum-data modeling approach is used to show the amount of switchgrass farmers could profitably produce at different switchgrass prices. The approach also shows how carbon payments might also affect the amount of switchgrass farmers would produce. Results showed that the amount of switchgrass produced would change rapidly for changing switchgrass price. Results also showed that paying farmers for carbon storage would also have a large effect the amount of switchgrass produced. This study shows a way to quickly evaluate potential bioenergy supply using commonly available information.

Technical Abstract: There is a demand for timely information to support policy decision making. There is also interest in the potential for alternative crops such as switchgrass to be used for ethanol production and which would have a positive impact on net greenhouse gas emission. This paper uses a new minimum-data modeling approach to assess the economic potential for incorporation of switchgrass into farming systems in the northern plains region of the United States for biofuel production. The analysis evaluates the potential adoption of switchgrass in relation to crop prices, the demand for switchgrass for biofuel production, the technical potential for carbon sequestration, and the price of carbon. Results show that switchgrass adoption is likely to be highly sensitive to price, and that a positive price for carbon sequestration also would substantially encourage conversion of wheat to switchgrass. The analysis shows a positive economic potential for adoption of switchgrass; however, this potential depends critically on the price of switchgrass as well as additional incentives that could be provided by a positive price for carbon sequestration associated with the change from wheat to switchgrass. The minimum-data approach provides a method to rapidly evaluate bioenergy supply using existing data sources.