Start Date: Sep 15, 2012
End Date: Mar 31, 2014
Use of lands within the central Great Plains for bioenergy production have not been rigorously evaluated from an agronomic, environmental, and economic perspective with respect to their ability to provide total land use sustainability. Therefore, the major objective of this proposed project will be to use the WEPS and RUSLE2 programs to increase the knowledge base concerning soil sustainability as a function of alternate cropping rotations/scenarios with an emphasis on bioenergy–based systems within select areas/locations in the central Great Plains. Specifically, rotations providing improvement in soil quality, reduction in wind erosion, and decreased water use will be targeted. Project tasks include determining what lands/acreages within the central Great Plains can be termed ‘marginal’ and therefore targeted for alternate cropping rotations in terms of propensity for soil erosion due to rainfall and/or wind forces, levels of annual precipitation, and yields of conventional commodity crops and rotations. Also, WEPS and RUSLE2 will be used to determine the change in agricultural crop residue removal quantities, as derived from the recent Idaho National Laboratory analysis, as a function of cover crops, yield increases through 2020, and field management timing and replacement. In addition, we will determine alternate bioenergy-based cropping rotations as a function of localized geo-climatic conditions, and using WEPS and RUSLE2 analyze changes in soil quality versus current or expected cropping practices.