Biomass from marginal cropland: willingness of North Central US farmers to produce switchgrass on their least productive fields

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10 Scopus citations

Abstract

If the US mandates for the use of cellulosic biofuels are ultimately enforced, cellulosic feedstock will be demanded. Native switchgrass is a cellulosic feedstock that has been of substantial interest for this purpose because it is widely grown across the USA, it can be grown on marginal cropland and thus compete minimally with food supplies, it has a low carbon footprint, and in many ways, it is a sustainable source of energy. The purpose of the research reported here is to quantify the potential willingness of producers across 358 counties in a 10-state area in North Central USA to produce this biomass. We conducted a contingent valuation survey of randomly selected farm operators in this area. From the more than 1100 responses, we found that the mean reservation price at which respondents were willing to supply switchgrass from their least productive field is a return of about $228 per acre, which translates to about $82 per dry ton. Respondents were somewhat less willing to lease out their land for this purpose, requiring an additional $3.50 per dry ton to be willing to lease. In sub-regions of counties grouped by opportunity cost, mean reservation prices are equivalent to $75 per ton, $82 per ton, and $99 per ton, very close in the first two subregions to the Department of Energy goal of $84 per dry ton delivered to the biorefinery. Thus, prospects appear favorable that substantial fractions of farmers would be willing to supply switchgrass in this area, particularly in the sub-areas with lower land costs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-294
Number of pages14
JournalBiofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

Keywords

  • biomass supply
  • cellulosic feedstock
  • switchgrass
  • willingness to accept

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

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