Biomass Production and Water: A Brief Review of Recent Research

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) mandated an increase in the production of liquid fuels from renewable sources, including corn, soybeans, and perennial crops. Expanded corn production poses a risk to water quality, and expanded production of perennial crops for cellulosic ethanol may have positive effects on water quality as well as positive or negative impacts on water quantity. Nitrate contamination from corn production is greatest in regions with subsurface drainage systems. Sediment and phosphorus contamination are more likely to come from sloping soils. The risks to water quality can be reduced by conservation practices, such as planting winter cover crops, but the costs of implementing these practices represent a barrier to adoption when there is little or no benefit to the farm owner or operator. The magnitude of these impacts appears to be highly variable and there is a need for more empirical work to improve simulation models to quantify the impacts in different physiographic settings and at a range of scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-161
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Sustainable/Renewable Energy Reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2014


  • Biofuel
  • Cover crops
  • Ethanol
  • Hydrology
  • Land use
  • Maize
  • Miscanthus
  • Nitrate
  • Switchgrass
  • Tile drainage
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Fuel Technology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)


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