SWAT watershed model simulated biomass yield and pollutant loadings were integrated with associated economic costs of farm production and transport to study two dedicated energy crops, switchgrass and Miscanthus, and corn stover, as feedstocks for a cellulosic biorefinery. A multi-level spatial optimization (MLSOPT) framework was employed to get spatially explicit cropping plans for a watershed under the assumption that the watershed supplies biomass to a hypothetical biorefinery considering both the biochemical and the thermochemical conversion pathways. Consistent with previous studies, the perennial grasses had higher biomass yield than corn stover, with considerably lower sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus loadings, but their costs were higher. New insights were related to the tradeoffs between cost, feedstock production, and the level and form of environmental quality society faces as it implements the Renewable Fuel Standard. Economically, this involved calculating the farthest distance a biorefinery would be willing to drive to source corn residue before procuring a single unit of perennial grasses from productive agricultural soils.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Energy (miscellaneous)