Soil Carbon Change and Net Energy Associated with Biofuel Production on Marginal lands: A Regional Modeling Perspective - Oct. 16

Please join us for a seminar 

2:10 pm, 2045 BAINER HALL 

Soil Carbon Change and Net Energy Associated with 
Biofuel Production on Marginal lands: 
A Regional Modeling Perspective 

Presenter: Varaprasad (Prasad) Bandaru 



The utilization of marginal lands for biofuel production has been proposed as a promising solution for meeting biofuel demands while avoiding food-feed-fuel conflicts. However, there is uncertainty surrounding whether or not marginal lands can be reliably located, as well as their inherent biofuel potential and the possible environmental impacts. Responding to these concerns, we developed a quantitative approach that integrates satellite based high-resolution land cover and land productivity to classify productive croplands and non-arable marginal lands. Then the classified lands in Southern Michigan were examined with the spatially-explicit modeling framework using the Environmental Policy Integrated Climate (EPIC) model to estimate net energy (NE) and soil organic carbon (SOC) changes associated with the cultivation of different production systems including 1) one annual production system (corn-soybean rotation) under either conventional tillage or no tillage and with either 50% residue removal or no-residue removal; and two perennial cropping systems (switchgrass and miscanthus). 

This simulation study offered two important insights associated with biofuel production on marginal lands.1) Even though biofuel production systems underperform on marginal lands in terms of NE potential when compared to productive croplands, the magnitudinal difference would vary with a production system used for biofuels. 2) Simulated results revealed that local climate, landscape, and soil characteristics would have significant impact on the performance of production systems on marginal lands, which results in large variability in NE and SOC sequestration potentials across the space. Therefore, it is necessary to promote regional and site-specific management strategies to maximize the NE and SOC sequestration potentials on marginal lands and use spatially-explicit models to formulate and evaluate management strategies. 

Varaprasad Bandaru is a Project Scientist at the Energy Institute, UC Davis, Davis, CA. Before he joined UC-Davis Energy Institute, he worked as a Research Scientist at the Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, College Park, MD, and as a Post-doctoral research associate at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His research interests are broadly focused on geospatial analysis and agricultural ecosystem modeling using satellite remote sensing, GIS, and process models. He is an active participant and co-investigator in the research projects associated with North American Carbon Program (NACP). Currently, he is serving on the Agronomy Journal editorial board as an Associate Editor to handle the journal articles related to the precision agriculture. He received masters in plant, soil and environmental sciences from the West Texas A&M University, and a PhD in Environmental Soil Science from the University of Delaware. 

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