Interplay between yield, nitrogen application, and logistics on the potential energetic and greenhouse gas emissions from biomass crops

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3 Scopus citations


The interplay between nitrogen fertilization (N), yield, nitrous oxide emissions (N2O), and diesel fuel utilization associated with harvest and transport logistics of biomass crops remains poorly understood. In this research, we show that intensification (in terms of N) of bioenergy cropping to maximize yield supports not only minimized land use but also maximized logistics efficiency in terms of diesel use. This paradigm was examined within the scope of the billion-ton biofuels vision and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 using potential yields on marginal and prime agricultural land. Sixteen scenarios were investigated that considered the primary factors with agriculture bioenergy; biomass yield (11.2 and 22.4 Mg ha-1 yr-1), two nitrogen fertilizer application rates (50 and 100 kg N ha-1 yr-1), two Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGE) factors for synthetic nitrogen to nitrous oxide (1.5 and 5%), and three harvest/transportation efficiencies (50, 65, and 80%). These scenarios resulted in energy consumption between 747 and 1351 MJ Mg-1 and GHGE between 72 and 311 kg CO2 eq Mg-1. GHGE emissions are strongly related to the emission of nitrous oxide from soils due to nitrogen fertilization and could represent over 80% of the GHGE relative to biomass harvest logistics. These data imply that synthetic N supplementation to maximize yield could reduce the burden due to diesel fuel for harvest, but would rapidly become the most significant contributor to GHGE. Minimizing the impact of N fertilization will be critical for reducing the GHGE associated with biomass production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)664-673
Number of pages10
JournalGCB Bioenergy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2013

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Billion-ton vision
  • Biofuel
  • Cellulosic biofuel
  • Diesel fuel
  • Feedstock
  • Fertilization
  • Fossil fuel
  • Harvest logistics
  • Soil carbon
  • Synthetic nitrogen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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