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Comparison of Potential Bio-Energy Feedstock Production and Water Quality Impacts Using a Modeling Approach

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DOI: 10.4236/jwarp.2012.49087    3,327 Downloads   5,582 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

Cellulosic and agricultural bio-energy crops can be utilized as feedstock source for bio-fuels production and provide environmental benefits such as hydrology, water quality. This study compared potential feedstock yield and water quality benefit scenarios of six bio-energy crops: Miscanthus (Miscanthus-giganteus), Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense), Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), Corn (Zea mays), and Soybean {Glycine max (L.) Merr.} at the watershed scale using Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model. The SWAT model was calibrated (1998 to 2002) and validated (2003 to 2010) using monthly measured USGS stream flow data. Model was further verified using available monthly sediment yield, and county level NASS corn and soybean yield data within the watershed. The long-term average annual potential feedstock yield as an alternative energy source was determined the greatest when growing Miscanthus grass scenario (21.9 Mg/ha) followed by Switchgrass (15.2 Mg/ha), Johnsongrass (12.1 Mg/ha), Alfalfa (7 Mg/ha), Corn (5.9 Mg/ha), and Soybean (2.35 Mg/ha). Model results determined the least amount of average annual sediment yield (1.1 Mg/ha) from the Miscanthus grass scenario and the greatest amount (12 Mg/ha) from the corn crop scenario. About 11% less annual average surface water flow from the watershed could be anticipated when converting land areas from soybean to Miscanthus grass. The results of this study suggested that growing Miscanthus grass in the UPRW would have the greatest potential feedstock yield and water quality benefits. The results of this study may help in developing future watershed management programs.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

P. Parajuli, "Comparison of Potential Bio-Energy Feedstock Production and Water Quality Impacts Using a Modeling Approach," Journal of Water Resource and Protection, Vol. 4 No. 9, 2012, pp. 763-771. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2012.49087.

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