Purdue University | Indiana CCA

Proceedings 2008

Indiana Certified Crop Adviser Conference


Emerging Biofuel Crops & Technologies

United States energy policy requires 36 billion gallons of ethanol by the year 2022, with 21 billion gallons coming from cellulosic feedstocks. This has served as a catalyst for ramping up technological advancement with 2nd gerneration biofuel crops including perennial warm season grass crops and other non-food crop bioenergy sources. Further complicating the issue is the convergence of several factors which significantly increase the production demand on global agricultural systems. These factors include: increased population levels; increased affluence and commensurate increases in demand for diets higher in meat protein; and, utilization of agricultural commodities for renewable fuels. This presentation will focus on recent advancements in bioenergy crops including crops designed for marginally productive lands not currently managed for food crop production. Additionally, the presentation will assess the environmental aspects of alternative liquid fuel production, particularly in the area of net greenhouse gas (GHG) production, and carbon sequestration potential. As we move to cellulosic sources of feedstock for ethanol production, questions arise on the potential soil carbon and greenhouse gas implications in cropping systems where corn stover or other plant biomass is removed. On the somewhat marginal soils typical of the Great Lakes Region, we calculate that a minimum of 7500 lb of corn stover is needed per acre in each cycle of a corn soybean rotation just to maintain soil organic matter at current levels.


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Kurt Thelen Associate Professor and Extension Specialist
Michigan State University

Dr. Thelen’s research program is focused on applied issues pertinent to the North Central Corn-Belt. As a cropping systems agronomist, Dr. Thelen has conducted research on a wide range of crop production aspects including: bio-energy crop production, utility and assessment of marginal lands for biofuel crop production; management, landscape and soil affects on biofuel crop quality; development of an NIR calibration equation for quantifying ethanol yield from corn grain; carbon cycling in complete biomass removal cropping systems; integrating canola into Michigan cropping systems; tillage systems, weed control, rotational aspects, in-field plant arrangement, soil variability affects on yield, environmental aspects, and precision agriculture. http://www.msu.edu/~thelenk3/