Campus Units

Agronomy, Economics, Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium

Document Type

Article

Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date

9-4-2013

Journal or Book Title

Environmental Research Letters

Volume

8

Issue

3

First Page

035037

DOI

10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/035037

Abstract

While grain crops are meeting much of the initial need for biofuels in the US, cellulosic or second generation (2G) materials are mandated to provide a growing portion of biofuel feedstocks. We sought to inform development of a 2G crop portfolio by assessing the profitability of novel cropping systems that potentially mitigate the negative effects of grain-based biofuel crops on food supply and environmental quality. We analyzed farm-gate costs and returns of five systems from an ongoing experiment in central Iowa, USA. The continuous corn cropping system was most profitable under current market conditions, followed by a corn–soybean rotation that incorporated triticale as a 2G cover crop every third year, and a corn–switchgrass system. A novel triticale–hybrid aspen intercropping system had the highest yields over the long term, but could only surpass the profitability of the continuous corn system when biomass prices exceeded foreseeable market values. A triticale/sorghum double cropping system was deemed unviable. We perceive three ways 2G crops could become more cost competitive with grain crops: by (1) boosting yields through substantially greater investment in research and development, (2) increasing demand through substantially greater and sustained investment in new markets, and (3) developing new schemes to compensate farmers for environmental benefits associated with 2G crops.

Comments

This article is from Environmental Research Letters 8, no. 3 (2013): 035037, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/035037.

Rights

Content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.

Copyright Owner

IOP Publishing Ltd.

Language

en

File Format

application/pdf

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