Thursday, August 9, 2007: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
A4&5, San Jose McEnery Convention Center
OOS 40 - Biofuels from rangelands: Boon or bane?
Interest in biofuels has increased dramatically, with the promise of reduction of our dependence on foreign oil and claims of lessened environmental impacts due to their use. A great deal of analysis has been done on biofuels including ethanol and biodiesel from the use of food crops such as corn, soybeans and sugar cane. More recently, there has been an effort to use cellulosics, or nonfood plants, as feedstocks for both ethanol and “Bioheat”. Research has focused on the potential usage of “switchgrass” (Panicum virgatum) and other perennial tall grass species. Recent work has also been focused on some of the woody invaders in rangelands such as “mesquite” (Prosopis glandulosa) and “juniper” (Juniperus spp). Discussions of these efforts have been intense, with advocates and opponents alike conducting research and often simultaneously pressing for policy adoption. The urgency of the need for alternative energy solutions, whether real or perceived, may force alternative energy policy decisions to be made using incomplete data sets. This organized oral session will highlight work on all sides of this critically important topic. We will examine the energetic, ecological and economic costs and benefits behind the use of rangeland feedstocks in both ethanol and bioheat projects. Some key issues include effects of biofuel growth and usage on greenhouse gas emissions, ecosystem integrity of the system(s) being harvested, effects on biodiversity, projected energy balances and economic costs of production and use. The total area of native rangelands is diminishing at a rapid rate. Much of this loss of rangeland has been to cropping systems as well as to expansion of urban areas. Does the expanded interest in rangeland species as feedstocks for biofuels represent yet another hazard for this dwindling ecological resource, or would ecologically planned harvests offer another way in which these lands may be conserved or even restored? Alternatively, do we allow for the invasion of higher producing feedstocks, for instance woody plants invading grasslands, to increase energy sources at the expense of biomes? We have designed this session to maximize audience interaction with the speakers and have allotted time for a panel discussion at the end of the presentations so that these issues may be examined critically.
Organizer:Linda L. Wallace, University of Oklahoma
Co-organizers:Linda L. Wallace, University of Oklahoma
Jim Ansley, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station
Moderator:Linda L. Wallace, University of Oklahoma
1:30 PMBiodiversity and ecosystem services: Carbon-neutral corn ethanol produced using low-input high-diversity prairie biomass to power conversion facilities
Jason Hill, University of Minnesota, David Tilman, University of Minnesota
1:50 PMBioheat and biogas from prairie grasses: The growing option for ecological restoration and energy security in North America
Roger Samson, Resource Efficient Agricultural Production – Canada, Claudia Ho Lem, Resource Efficient Agricultural Production – Canada, Stephanie Bailey, Resource Efficient Agricultural Production – Canada
2:10 PMBiofuels from a woody invader in grasslands, Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa)
R. J. Ansley, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, R. L. Stanford, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, E. C. Rhodes, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station
2:30 PMBiofuel production from switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.)
Rob Mitchell, USDA-ARS and University of Nebraska, Kenneth P. Vogel, USDA-ARS and University of Nebraska
2:50 PMBiofuels in Wisconsin: Boon or bane for birds?
David W. Sample, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
3:10 PMBreak
3:20 PMEconomic analysis of biofuel production from rangelands
Richard Conner, Texas A & M University
3:40 PMUsing the land to fuel our appetite for gasoline and diesel
David M. Engle, Iowa State University
4:00 PMEffects of biofuel activities on soil carbon, nutrients, and sedimentation
Ermson Nyakatawa, Alabama A&M University

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