“What would you think if a farmer could grow corn and soybeans with lower costs, fewer chemicals, less environmental impact, all while increasing yields and making a profit?…Project findings were published October 10 in the peer-reviewed online journal PLOS ONE. The journal article, “Increasing cropping system diversity balances productivity, profitability and environmental health,” was written by Adam Davis, USDA-ARS weed ecologist in Urbana, Illinois; Iowa State University agronomist Matt Liebman, who leads the research project; Jason Hill, an environmental scientist at the University of Minnesota.”
“It’s hard to tell just from looking at the three identical garden plots on the north end of campus that the soil they’re planted in might hold one of the key pieces in the “how can we make biofuels sustainable?” puzzle… Jason Hill (’04–Ph.D., Plant Biological Sciences) and his team have a less visible but broad-ranging role in the multi-state project.”
“Bruce Roseland runs cattle here in the heart of the South Dakota grasslands, in the same place where his great-grandfather ranched more than a hundred years ago. But today, when he looks out his kitchen window, the prairie that once reached from horizon to horizon is gone… Preserving grasslands as a hedge against climate change makes sense, even after considering the environmental benefits of ethanol, said Jason Hill, a University of Minnesota professor who studies grasses and biofuels.”
“Standing outside the Central Minnesota Ethanol Co-Op in Little Falls, Minn., there’s not a lot going on. The pungent smell of fermentation that typically hangs in the air here is absent. And trucks piled high with corn are nowhere to be seen…. Jason Hill is a professor of bioproducts and biosystems engineering at the University of Minnesota. He says while roughly half of nation’s corn supply this year will go to producing ethanol, that ethanol will make up only between 5 and 6 percent of the nation’s fuel consumption.”
“The real cost for a gallon of fuel goes well beyond the price displayed at the pump. The total you pay to fill your tank doesn’t include the costs of repairing damage to air and water quality. Similarly, it doesn’t include the human and ecological costs of climate change from greenhouse gas emissions..”
Global food demand could double by 2050, according to a new projection reported this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences… Scientists David Tilman and Jason Hill of the University of Minnesota and colleagues found that producing the amount of food needed could significantly increase levels of carbon dioxide and nitrogen in the environment, and may cause the extinction of numerous species.
The NRC report on the national Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) was discussed on Minnesota Public Radio.
Find it here.
From the report: In the United States, we have come to depend upon plentiful and inexpensive energy to support our economy and lifestyles. In recent years, many questions have been raised regarding the sustainability of our current pattern of high consumption of nonrenewable energy and its environmental consequences. Further, because the United States imports about 55 percent of the nation’s consumption of crude oil, there are additional concerns about the security of supply. Hence, efforts are being made to find alternatives to our current pathway, including greater energy efficiency and use of energy sources that could lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions such as nuclear and renewable sources, including solar, wind, geothermal, and biofuels. The United States has a long history with biofuels and the nation is on a course charted to achieve a substantial increase in biofuels.
Renewable Fuel Standard evaluates the economic and environmental consequences of increasing biofuels production as a result of Renewable Fuels Standard, as amended by EISA (RFS2). The report describes biofuels produced in 2010 and those projected to be produced and consumed by 2022, reviews model projections and other estimates of the relative impact on the prices of land, and discusses the potential environmental harm and benefits of biofuels production and the barriers to achieving the RFS2 consumption mandate.