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ARS Home » Plains Area » Temple, Texas » Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #348768

Research Project: Resilient Management Systems and Decision Support Tools to Optimize Agricultural Production and Watershed Responses from Field to National Scale

Location: Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Title: How can we make biofuels more climate friendly?

Author
item Crow, Susan - University Of Hawaii
item Pawlowski, Meghan - University Of Hawaii
item Meki, Manyowa - Texas Agrilife Research
item Kiniry, James
item Taylor, Andrew - University Of Hawaii
item Ogoshi, Richard - University Of Hawaii
item Youkhana, Adel - University Of Hawaii
item Nakahata, Mae - University Of Hawaii

Submitted to: Science Journal for Kids
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/9/2017
Publication Date: 12/17/2017
Citation: Crow, S., Pawlowski, M., Meki, M., Kiniry, J.R., Taylor, A., Ogoshi, R., Youkhana, A., Nakahata, M. 2017. How can we make biofuels more climate friendly? Science Journal for Kids. Available: http://www.sciencejournalforkids.org/uploads/5/4/2/8/54289603/hawaii-article.pdf.

Interpretive Summary: Wouldn’t it be great to find a fuel that powers our cars and planes without polluting the environment or warming up our planet? Fuels made from plants, like corn or sugarcane, called “biofuels,” appeared to be more climate-friendly than burning fossil fuels. Unfortunately, it turns out that many biofuels are no better, if not worse, than their fossil fuel counterparts in their impact on our climate. This is because they use up more fossil fuels in their production than they were meant to save! We wanted to see if we could change that and find a more climate-friendly way to produce biofuels. And we did! We found two promising candidates that we tested in field experiments in Hawaii. We showed that a conservation-oriented production method (no tillage, less water, less fertilizer) and good crop selection are crucial for producing better biofuels.

Technical Abstract: Wouldn’t it be great to find a fuel that powers our cars and planes without polluting the environment or warming up our planet? Fuels made from plants, like corn or sugarcane, called “biofuels,” appeared to be more climate-friendly than burning fossil fuels. Unfortunately, it turns out that many biofuels are no better, if not worse, than their fossil fuel counterparts in their impact on our climate. This is because they use up more fossil fuels in their production than they were meant to save! We wanted to see if we could change that and find a more climate-friendly way to produce biofuels. And we did! We found two promising candidates that we tested in field experiments in Hawaii. We showed that a conservation-oriented production method (no tillage, less water, less fertilizer) and good crop selection are crucial for producing better biofuels.