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

DOI: 10.4236/jwarp.2012.49087   PDF   HTML     3,508 Downloads   5,833 Views   Citations


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.

Share and Cite:

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.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] US Energy Information Administration (EIA), “World Energy Consumption and Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 1990-2025,” 2004-2005.
[2] US Energy Information Administration (EIA), “U.S. Car- bon Dioxide Emissions in 2009: A Retrospective Re- view,” 2009.
[3] US Department of Energy (US/DOE), “Energy Informa- tion Administration Annual Energy Outlook,” Report No. DOE/EIA-0383, National Energy Information Center, Washington DC, 2004, pp. 1-221.
[4] US Census Bureau (USCB), “International Database,” 2011.
[5] J. Hill, E. Nelson, D. Tilman, S. Polasky and D. Tiffany, “Environmental, Economic, and Energetic Costs and Benefits of Biodiesel and Biofuels,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 103, No. 30, 2006, pp. 11206-11210. doi:10.1073/pnas.0604600103
[6] J. Milliken, F. Joseck, M. Wang and E. Yuzugullu, “The Advanced Energy Initiative,” Journal of Power Sources, Vol. 172, No. 1, 2007, pp. 121-131. doi:10.1016/j.jpowsour.2007.05.030
[7] D. Pimentel, and T. W. Patzek, “Ethanol Production Us- ing Corn, Switchgrass, and Wood; Biodiesel Production Using Soybean and Sunflower,” Natural Resources Re- search, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2005, pp. 65-76. doi:10.1007/s11053-005-4679-8
[8] S. C. Davis and S. W. Diegel, ”Transportation Energy Data Book,” ORNL-6973, Edition 24, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, 2004, pp. 1-348.
[9] W. T. W. Woodward, “The Potential for Alfalfa, Switch- grass and Miscanthus as Biofuel Crops in Washington,” Proceedings of the Washington State Hay Growers Association Annual Conference and Trade Show, Three Rivers Convention Center, Kennewick, 16-17 January 2008, pp. 1-7.
[10] B. Baldwin, “Biomass Energy Crops for the Southeast,” Biofuels Conference, Mississippi State University, Jackson, 12-13 August 2010.
[11] L. Wright, “Historical Perspective on How and Why Sw- itchgrass Was Selected as a Model High-Potential Energy Crop,” Consultancy Work to Bioenergy Resources and Engineering Systems, ORNL/TM-2007/109, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 2007, pp. 1-59.
[12] S. B. McLaughlin and L. A. Kaszos, “Development of Switchgrass as a Bioenergy Feedstock in the United States,” Biomass Bioenergy, Vol. 28, 2005, pp. 515-535. doi:10.1016/j.biombioe.2004.05.006
[13] J. E. King, J. M. Hannifan and R. G. Nelson, “An Assessment of the Feasibility of Electric Power Derived from Biomass and Waste Feedstocks,” Report No. KRD- 9513, Kansas Electric Utilities Research Program and Kansas Corporation Commission, Topeka, 1998, pp. 1- 266.
[14] US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “National Summary of Impaired Waters and TMDL Information,” US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DC, 2010.
[15] J. R. Williams, “The EPIC Model in Computer Models of Watershed Hydrology, Chapter 25,” Water Resources Publications, Highlands Ranch, 1995, pp. 909-1000.
[16] J. G. Arnold, R. Srinivasan, R. S. Muttiah and J. R. Wil- liams, “Large Area Hydrologic Modeling and Assessment Part I: Model Development,” Journal of American Water Resource Association, Vol. 34, No. 1, 1998, pp. 73-89. doi:10.1111/j.1752-1688.1998.tb05961.x
[17] P. W. Gassman, M. R. Reyes, C. H. Green and J. G. Arnold, “The Soil and Water Assessment Tool: Historical Development, Applications, and Future Research Directions,” Transactions of the ASABE, Vol. 50, No. 4, 2007, pp. 1211-1250.
[18] P. B. Parajuli, K. R. Mankin and P. L. Barnes, “Applica- bility of Targeting Vegetative Filter Strips to Abate Fecal Bacteria and Sediment Yield Using SWAT,” Agricultural Water Management, Vol. 95, No. 10, 2008, pp. 1189- 1200. doi:10.1016/j.agwat.2008.05.006
[19] P. B. Parajuli, K. R. Mankin and P. L. Barnes, “Source Specific Fecal Bacteria Modeling Using Soil and Water Assessment Tool Model,” Bioresource Technology, Vol. 100, No. 2, 2009, pp. 953-963. doi:10.1016/j.biortech.2008.06.045
[20] M. S. Kang, S. W. Park, J. J. Lee and K. H. Yoo, “App- lying SWAT for TMDL Programs to a Small Watershed Containing Rice Paddy Fields,” Agricultural Water Man- agement, Vol. 79, No. 1, 2006, pp. 72-92. doi:10.1016/j.agwat.2005.02.015
[21] P. B. Parajuli, “Assessing Sensitivity of Hydrologic Res- ponses to Climate Change from Forested Watershed in Mississippi,” Hydrological Processes, Vol. 24, No. 26, 2010, pp. 3785-3797. doi:10.1002/hyp.7793
[22] R. G. Nelson, J. C. Ascough II and M. R. Langemeier, “Environmental and Economic Analysis of Switchgrass Production for Water Quality Improvement in Northeast Kansas,” Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 79, No. 4, 2006, pp. 336-347. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2005.07.013
[23] L. Baskaran, H. I. Jager, P. E. Schweizer and R. Sriniva- san, “Progress toward Evaluating the Sustainability of Switchgrass as a Bioenergy Crop Using the SWAT Mo- del,” Transactions of the ASABE, Vol. 53, No. 5, 2010, pp. 1547-1556.
[24] H. I. Jager, L. Baskaran, C. C. Brandt, E. Davis, C. A. Gunderson and S. Wullschleger, ”Empirical Geographic Modeling of Switchgrass Yields in the United States,” GCB Bioenergy, Vol. 2, 2010, pp. 248-257. doi:10.1111/j.1757-1707.2010.01059.x
[25] R. Srinivasan, X. Zhang and J. Arnold, “SWAT Ungaged: Hydrological Budget and Crop Yield Predictions in the Upper Mississippi River Basin,” Transactions of the ASABE, Vol. 53, No. 5, 2010, pp. 1533-1546.
[26] R. L. Huhnke, J. F. Stritzke and J. B. Solie, “Primary Tillage Effects on Alfalfa Establishment and Yield,” Transactions of the ASAE, Vol. 9, No. 6, 1993, pp. 495- 499.
[27] S. L. Dillard, “Productivity and Nutritive Quality of John- songrass as Influenced by Interseeded Ladino Cover and Fertilization with Commercial Fertilizer or Broiler Litter,” MS Thesis, Auburn University, Auburn, 2009.
[28] S. L. Neitsch, J. G. Arnold, J. R. Kiniry and J. R. Wi- lliams, “Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), Theoretical Documentation,” Blackland Research Center, Grassland, Soil and Water Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, Temple, 2005.
[29] US Geological Society (USGS), “National Elevation Da- taset,” 1999.
[30] US Department of Agriculture (USDA), “Soil Data Mart,” Natural Resources Conservation Service, 2005.
[31] US Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA/NASS), “The Cropland Data Layer,” 2009.
[32] National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), “Locate Weather Observation Station Record,” 2012.
[33] J. M. O. Scurlock, “Miscanthus: A Review of European Experience with a Novel Energy Crop,” Environmental Sciences Division, Publication No. 4845, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Oak Ridge, 2009.
[34] T. L. Ng, J. W. Eheart, X. Cai and F. Miguez, “Modeling Miscanthus in the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to Simulate Its Water Quality Effects as a Bio- energy Crop,” Environmental Science and Technology, Vol. 44, No. 18, 2010, pp. 7138-7144. doi:10.1021/es9039677
[35] E. A. Heaton, F. G. Dohleman and S. P. Long, “Meeting U.S. Biofuel Goals with Less Land: The Potential of Miscanthus,” Global Change Biology, Vol. 14, 2008, pp. 2000-2014. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2008.01662.x
[36] R. L. Hall, “Grasses for Energy Production Hydrological Guidelines,” B/CR/00783/guidelines/grasses.URN 03/882, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, 2003.
[37] D. N. Moriasi, J. G. Arnold, M. W. Van Liew, R. L. Bingner, R. D. Harmel and T. L. Veith, “Model Evalu- ation Guidelines for Systematic Quantification of Accuracy in Watershed Simulations,” Transactions of the ASABE, Vol. 50, No. 3, 2007, pp. 885-900.
[38] A. Y. Sheshukov, C. B. Siebenmorgen and K. R. Douglas-Mankin, “Seasonal and Annual Impacts of Climate Change on Watershed Response Using an Ensemble of Global Climate Models,” Transactions of the ASABE, Vol. 54, No. 6, 2011, pp. 2209-2218.
[39] A. P. Nejadhashemi, S. A. Woznicki and K. R. Douglas- Mankin, “Comparison of Four Models (STEPL, PLOAD, L-THIA, AND SWAT) in Simulating Sediment, Nitrogen, and Phosphorus Loads and Pollutant Source Areas,” Transactions of the ASABE, Vol. 54, No. 3, 2011, pp. 875-890.
[40] P. B. Parajuli, N. O. Nelson, D. F. Lyle and K. R. Mankin, “Comparison of AnnAGNPS and SWAT Model Simula- tion Results in USDA-CEAP Agricultural Watersheds in South-Central Kansas,” Hydrological Processes, Vol. 23, No. 5, 2009, pp. 748-763. doi:10.1002/hyp.7174
[41] T. L. Veith, A. N. Sharpley and J. G. Arnold, “Modeling a Small Northeastern Watershed with Detailed, Field- Level Data,” Transactions of the ASABE, Vol. 51, No. 2, 2008, pp. 471-483.
[42] US Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA/NASS), “County Estimates,” 2011.
[43] K. E. Schilling, M. K. Jha, Y. K. Zhang, P. W. Gassman and C. F. Wolter, “Impact of Land Use and Land Cover Change on the Water Balance of a Large Agricultural Watershed: Historical Effects and Future Directions,” Water Resources Research, Vol. 44, No. 7, 2008, pp. 1- 12.

comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2020 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.