Description

Tackling the twin concerns of energy security and anthropogenic climate change are principal factors for the United States (U.S.) continued pursuit of renewable energy. Indirect and unintended detrimental consequences related to climate and food security for first generation biofuels exemplify a non-sustainable approach to bioenergy production. Similarly, land-use change (LUC) associated with perennial biomass energy expansion may have significant and direct effects on natural water resources that requires assessment prior to largescale surface modification to ensure long-term environmental sustainability. Recent work has highlighted considerable impacts associated with central U.S. conversion of annual (i.e., first generation) to perennial (i.e., second generation) bioenergy crops such as miscanthus and switchgrass. This LUC imparts a local-to-regional scale cooling of 1-2C resulting primarily from greater evapotranspiration (ET) from the extended growing season and extensive rooting system of perennials. The reservoir of stored deep soil water is modestly reduced at the conclusion of the growing season, but the time scale of consideration (one growing season) omitted potentially important consequences related to long-term climate variability and the evolving nature of soil water/water table depletion/equilibrium ET. The proposed work will build upon this research, using a trans-disciplinary framework integrating across physical (i.e., coupled hydro-climate), agricultural (i.e., crop modeling), and socioeconomic (i.e., economic) elements to develop regional hot-spots of sustainable perennial biomass energy expansion on U.S. degraded and abandoned farmland. Our approach uses state-of-the-art tools by accounting for sub-surface hydrology, water table dynamics and modern-day irrigation practices to quantify hydro-climatic impacts on perennial biomass energy crop yields, assess economic profitability and examine potential designs for extensions of agricultural programs (e.g., Conservation Reserve Program) to promote a sustainable path of water consumption for energy generation.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date9/15/128/31/18

Funding

  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $1,484,952.00

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energy crop
growing season
bioenergy
land use change
evapotranspiration
water table
climate
soil water
energy
crop
rooting
food security
economics
biofuel
profitability
crop yield
hydrology
natural resource
deep water
agricultural land