Impact of second-generation biofuel agriculture on greenhouse-gas emissions in the corn-growing regions of the US

Sarah C. Davis, William J. Parton, Stephen J. Del Grosso, Cindy Keough, Ernest Marx, Paul R. Adler, Evan H. Delucia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In the US, 95% of biofuel is produced from corn (Zea mays L), an intensively managed annual crop that is also grown for food and animal feed. Using the DAYCENT model, we estimated the effects on ecosystem services of replacing corn ethanol feedstocks with the perennial cellulosic feedstocks switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L) and miscanthus (Miscanthus × giganteus Greef et Deuter). If cellulosic feedstocks were planted on cropland that is currently used for ethanol production in the US, more ethanol (+82%) and grain for food (+4%) could be produced while at the same time reducing nitrogen leaching (-15 to -22%) and greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions (-29 to -473%). The GHG reduction was large even after accounting for emissions associated with indirect landuse change. Conversion from a high-input annual crop to a low-input perennial crop for biofuel production can thus transition the central US from a net source to a net sink for GHGs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-74
Number of pages6
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 26 2012

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greenhouse gas emissions
feedstocks
biofuels
biofuel
ethanol
greenhouse gas
Panicum virgatum
maize
agriculture
crop
corn
Miscanthus giganteus
grain foods
Miscanthus
food
energy crops
ethanol production
crops
greenhouse gases
ecosystem service

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

Cite this

Impact of second-generation biofuel agriculture on greenhouse-gas emissions in the corn-growing regions of the US. / Davis, Sarah C.; Parton, William J.; Del Grosso, Stephen J.; Keough, Cindy; Marx, Ernest; Adler, Paul R.; Delucia, Evan H.

In: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Vol. 10, No. 2, 26.03.2012, p. 69-74.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Davis, Sarah C. ; Parton, William J. ; Del Grosso, Stephen J. ; Keough, Cindy ; Marx, Ernest ; Adler, Paul R. ; Delucia, Evan H. / Impact of second-generation biofuel agriculture on greenhouse-gas emissions in the corn-growing regions of the US. In: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 2012 ; Vol. 10, No. 2. pp. 69-74.
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