08 April 2010

Energy Crops Impact Environmental Quality

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Crop residues, perennial warm season grasses, and short-rotation woody crops are potential biomass sources for cellulosic ethanol production

While most research is focused on the conversion of cellulosic feeedstocks into ethanol and increasing production of biomass, the impacts of growing energy crops and the removal of crop residue on soil and environmental quality have received less attention.
Moreover, effects of crop residue removal on soil and environmental quality have not been compared against those of dedicated energy crops.

In the March-April 2010 issue of Agronomy Journal, published by the American Society of Agronomy, Dr. Humberto Blanco reviewed the impacts of crop residue removal, warm season grasses, and short-rotation woody crops on critical soil properties, carbon sequestration, and water quality as well as the performance of energy crops in marginal lands.

The review found that crop residue removal from corn, wheat,and grain sorghumcan adversely impact soil and environmental quality. Removal of more than 50% of crop residue can have negative consequences for soil structure, reduce soil organic carbon sequestration, increase water erosion, and reduce nutrient cycling and crop production, particularly in erodible and sloping soils.

(BioFuelDaily)

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