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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Riverside, California » U.S. Salinity Laboratory » Water Reuse and Remediation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #342940

Research Project: Management of Degraded Waters for Irrigation: Integrated Field-scale Systems using Multi-sensor Technology

Location: Water Reuse and Remediation Research

Title: Evaluating oilseed biofuel production feasibility in California's San Joaquin Valley using geophysical and remote sensing techniques

Author
item Corwin, Dennis
item Yemoto, Kevin
item Clary, Wes - University Of New Mexico
item Banuelos, Gary
item Skaggs, Todd
item Lesch, Scott - Riverside Public Utilities
item Scudiero, Elia - University Of California - Cooperative Extension Service

Submitted to: Sensors
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/5/2017
Publication Date: 10/14/2017
Citation: Corwin, D.L., Yemoto, K.K., Clary, W., Banuelos, G.S., Skaggs, T.H., Lesch, S.M., Scudiero, E. 2017. Evaluating oilseed biofuel production feasibility in California's San Joaquin Valley using geophysical and remote sensing techniques. Sensors. 17(10):2343. https://doi.org/10.3390/s17102343.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/s17102343

Interpretive Summary: Alternative fuels, such as biofuel, are part of a strategic U.S. military goal of reliance on multiple, reliable, and secure fuel resources. Significant reduction in oilseed biofuel cost occurs when grown on marginally productive saline-sodic soils, such as those in California’s San Joaquin Valley (SJV). It is the objective of this study to evaluate the feasibility of oilseed production on marginal saline-sodic soils in the SJV to support a 115 ML yr-1 biofuel conversion facility as part of an overall evaluation of the feasibility of biofuels meeting 5% of the U.S. military’s aviation fuel needs. To meet this objective a map of saline-sodic soil for the SJV was developed using satellite and ground-based sensors and an oilseed yield model was created relating oilseed yield to soil properties limiting yield on marginally productive soils in the SJV. Oilseed yield on marginal soils was found to be most influenced by boron, salinity, leaching fraction, and water content. Simulated oilseed yields indicated that there is a 15-17% chance of reaching the goal of 115 ML yr-1 of biofuel from Ida Gold mustard oilseed in the SJV, making it infeasible prospect for California’s Central Valley. This research will directly benefit commercial biofuel developers and planners as well as departments and agencies within the federal government including the Department of Defense, particularly the Office of Naval Research, and Department of Energy.

Technical Abstract: For strategic reasons alternative fuels, such as biofuel, will foreseeably continue to be a part of a planned US military goal that encompasses a wide and varied range of fuel sources in spite of their high cost. Though more costly than petroleum-based fuels and envisioned as a minor component of the overall military fuel sources, biofuels are nonetheless strategically valuable to the military because of the intentional reliance on multiple, reliable, secure fuel sources. Significant reduction in oilseed biofuel cost occurs when grown on marginally productive saline-sodic soils, which are plentiful in California’s San Joaquin Valley (SJV), particularly on the west side. The objective of this paper is to formulate a crop yield model relating Ida Gold mustard oilseed yield to edaphic properties for evaluating the feasibility of oilseed production on marginal soils in the SJV to support a 115 ML yr-1 biofuel conversion facility. The feasibility evaluation involves: (1) identification of marginally productive salt-affected soils for oilseed production in the SJV, (2) development of a Ida Gold mustard oilseed yield model for marginal SJV soils, (3) development of a spatial database of edaphic factors influencing mustard yield for the SJV derived from satellite imagery and the National Resource Conservation Service SSURGO database, and (4) performance of Monte Carlo simulations to show the range and probability of potential biofuel production on marginally productive sdalt-affected soil for the SJV. The mustard oilseed yield model indicates yield in the SJV is related to boron (B; mg L-1), salinity as measured by the electrical conductivity of the saturation extract (ECe; dS m-1), leaching fraction (LF), and gravimetric water content ('g; g g-1) at field capacity: Ida Gold mustard oilseed yield (kg ha-1) = 146.4(B) – 18.3(B)2 + 83.0 (ECe) - 6.1 (ECe)2 + 1301.0 (LF) + 319.8 ('g) + 30.1 with R2=0.89 and adjusted R2=0.78. Monte Carlo simulations for the entire SJV fit a shifted gamma probability density function: Q = 68.986 + gamma(6.134,5.285), where Q is the biofuel production in ML yr-1. The shifted gamma cumulative density function indicates that there is a 0.15-0.17 probability of meeting the target biofuel-production level of 115 ML yr-1. Consequently, adequate biofuel from mustard oilseed grown on salt-affected soils for the entire SJV to support a conversion plant of sufficient capacity to justify construction is highly unlikely.