Assessment of pennsylvania crops and biofuels
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Assessment of Pennsylvania Crops and Biofuels. Greg W. Roth Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. Sustainable Bioenergy Crop Production. Cropping Systems Economic viability Energy yield Soil quality Pest management Nutrient cycling Biodiversity. No-tillage soybean following corn.

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Assessment of Pennsylvania Crops and Biofuels

Greg W. Roth

Department of Crop and Soil Sciences


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Sustainable Bioenergy Crop Production

  • Cropping Systems

    • Economic viability

    • Energy yield

    • Soil quality

    • Pest management

    • Nutrient cycling

    • Biodiversity

No-tillage soybean following corn


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Northeast Issues

  • Integration with existing animal based agriculture

  • Diverse land resource base

  • Many rural, small scale landowners

  • Commodity processing industries in proximity to large markets


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Switchgrass

Typical PA yield: 8000 lbs/ac

Potential use:

Direct Combustion (DC), Cellulosic Ethanol

Animal Ag Co-product: Aftermath grazing

Other potential products/benefits:

Wildlife habitat

Energy yield/ac: 56.4 mil BTU (DC)

Adaptability to No-tillage: High

Existing infrastructure: High

N fertilizer Inputs: 0-100 lbs/ac

Other Comments: Widely adaptable, especially on droughty soils. Provides excellent conservation and wildlife habitat. Can be slow to establish. Harvest schedule can impact wildlife benefits and ash content.


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Cool Season Grasses

Typical PA yield: 8000 lbs/ac

Potential use: Cellulosic Ethanol, Direct Combustion

Other potential products: Later cuttings can be used for feed.

Energy yield/ac: 56 mil BTU (DC)

Adaptability to No-tillage: High

Existing infrastructure: High

N fertilizer Inputs: 140 lbs/ac

Other Comments: Multiple species such as Reed Canarygrass, Orchardgrass, and Timothy. Widely grown, high yielding, very adaptable. Large demand by PA livestock industry. Sometimes first and other cuttings can be rain damaged and of low quality for animal feed. Value of high quality forage can be cost prohibitive for energy production.


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Corn

Typical PA yield: 7840 lbs/ac (140 bu/ac)

Potential use: Ethanol, Direct Combustion

Animal Ag Co-product: Distillers Grains

Other potential products:

Stover ( 4400 lbs/ac)

Cobs (1235 lbs/ac)

Ethanol yield/ac: 378 gal or 31.5 mil BTU

Energy yield/ac: 54.6 mil BTU (DC)

Adaptability to No-tillage: High

Existing infrastructure: High

N fertilizer Inputs: 150 lbs/ac

Other Comments: Widely grown, high yielding, somewhat susceptible to drought. Large demand by PA livestock industry. Use of corn oil for biodiesel and stover for direct combustion is increasing. Often N inputs in PA are reduced due to manure.


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Winter Barley

Typical PA yield: 4320 lbs/ac (90 bu/ac)

Potential use: Ethanol, Direct Combustion

Animal Ag Co-product: Distillers Grains

Other potential products:

Straw (2500 lbs/acre)

Ethanol yield/ac: 185 gal or 15.0 mil BTU

Energy yield per acre: 30.1 mil BTU (DC)

Adaptability to No-tillage: High

Existing Infrastructure: High

N fertilizer Inputs: 60 lbs/ac

Other Comments: Winter cover crop, drought tolerant, widely adaptable but often undervalued for feed. Hulless lines have potential for ethanol production. Produces higher protein DDGS. Crop does not require artificial drying. Often can be double cropped with soybeans or corn following barley harvest.


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Winter wheat/triticale

Typical PA yield: 4500 lbs/ac (75 bu/ac)

Potential use: Direct Combustion

Animal Ag Co-product: Wheat Midds

Other potential products:

Straw (3000 lbs/ac)

Energy yield per acre: 32.2 mil BTU (DC)

Adaptability to No-tillage: High

Existing Infrastructure: High

N fertilizer Inputs: 80 lbs/A

Other Comments: Winter crop grown mostly for food, but occasionally crop does not meet milling specifications, creating a potential feedstock for direct combustion. Also some potential for double cropping in some areas. A related feed crop, triticale, produces higher straw yields and feed or fuel quality grain. Wheat midds, a by product of milling are a potential direct combustion feedstock.


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Soybeans

Typical PA yield: 3000 lb/ac (50 bu/acre)

Potential use: Biodiesel

Animal Ag Co-product: Soybean meal

Other potential products:

Straw (1000 lbs/acre)

Biodiesel yield/ac: 74 gal/ac or 9.1 mil BTU

Adaptability to No-tillage: High

Existing Infrastructure: High

N fertilizer Inputs: 0 lbs/A

Other Comments: Widely grown for protein on livestock farms; oil used for food and biodiesel. Good rotational crop to break pest cycles and produce nitrogen for subsequent crops. Also, soybeans are drought tolerant and can be double cropped following barley or wheat. Soybean straw can be used as direct combustion feedstock.


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Canola/Rapeseed

Typical PA yield: 2500 lb/ac (50 bu/acre)

Potential use: Biodiesel

Animal Ag Co-product: Canola Meal

Other potential products:

Straw (1000 lbs/acre)

Biodiesel yield/ac: 143 gal or 17.5 mil BTU

Adaptability to No-tillage: High

Existing Infrastructure: Med

N fertilizer Inputs: 100 lbs/A

Other Comments: Limited production in PA but widely grown in Europe because of high oil yield per acre and low saturated fat in oil, which contributes to high quality for biodiesel. Canola meal is high protein feed comparable to soybean meal. Winter and spring varieties exist. Winter canola is more adapted to southern half of state. Higher N requirement than soybeans.


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Sugar beets

Typical PA yield: 75000 lbs/acre

Potential use: Ethanol

Animal Ag Co-product: Beet Pulp

Other potential products:

Beet Tops (3000 lb DM/ac)

Ethanol yield/ac: 576 gal or 48.0 mil BTU

Adaptability to No-tillage: Moderate

Existing Infrastructure: Low

N fertilizer Inputs: 100 lbs/A

Other Comments: Not currently grown in PA but could have potential as an ethanol feedstock with high potential ethanol yields per acre. Beet tops and beet pulp are potential co-products for animal production. Processing costs for beets may be lower than for starch or cellulosic based ethanol feedstocks. Could be alternative energy crop as a rotational crop on potato farms.


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Challenges

  • Large scale biorefineries demand large quantities of uniform feedstocks

  • Our ag systems generate diverse feedstocks in moderate quantities

  • Can smaller scale bioenergy systems be developed to use flexible feedstocks?

  • Can energy crops compete economically with feed crops?


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Conclusions

  • A wide range of options are available for energy crop production in Pennsylvania

  • No-tillage, cover cropping, crop rotation, nutrient management, and soil specific production are essential components of a sustainable system

  • New opportunities exist in biofuels systems, cropping systems and variety development



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