Research Summary: Sequestration of Carbon by Shrub Willow Offsets Greenhouse Gas Emissions

shrub willow biomass energy crop in the third growing season at SUNY-ESF
View down the alley of a shrub willow biomass energy crop in the third growing season at SUNY-ESF. Photo: Timothy Volk.

Grown for biofuel, energy-efficient shrub willow sequesters carbon below-ground, life-cycle assessment shows.



Shrub willow is a short-rotation woody biomass crop that could be an important part of our renewable energy future. By sequestering carbon in below-ground biomass, it can …

Research Summary: Research Finds Strong Genetic Diversity in Switchgrass Gene Pools

Genetic diversity in native switchgrass populations will benefit new varieties developed for biofuel production and ecosystem services.

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Dr. Mike Casler, USDA ARS Plant Breeder has helped lead efforts to improve switchgrass yield 40%.

Identification of gene pools and their geographic patterns will help in the development of new …

Sustainability on the Farm

Learn about sustainability indicators used to gauge and evaluate a farm’s progress toward a more sustainable future.

Contour farming with buffer strips. These conservation practices reduce erosion and water pollution.. Photo: NRCS/USDA; Wikimedia Commons.

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Sustainability on the

What is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) per pound of coal compared to pound of wood that is released into the air when each is burned?

The amount of carbon dioxide released from coal and wood depends on the type of coal or wood consumed and the moisture contents of both. A very rough estimate is that for each unit of coal or wood consumed, 1.5 units of CO2 are released. Higher-grade coal has higher carbon content so the amount of CO2 released per unit mass would also be higher.

The major difference between the carbon released from burning coal and wood is that …

Bioenergy Curriculum

Bioenergy module screen captureA thorough bioenergy curriculum for all audiences, created by over 40 university specialists.

This curriculum from the Bioenergy Training Center was created by over 40 university specialists in the U.S. North Central region to provide unbiased, researched and peer-reviewed information for this emerging field.

Targeted for Extension and other community educators, these resources also provide valuable information for farmers, landowners, community leaders, industry and the inquisitive public. 

Online courses are offered as modules, where learners can choose to study sequentially …

Indirect Land Use Impacts of Biofuels

What is Indirect Land Use Change?

A perennial pasture is plowed to plant annual biofuel feedstock crops, releasing carbon that was stored in the soil. Michael Bomford photo.


A surviving fragment of Amazon rainforest surrounded by cleared farmland in Brazil’s Mato Grosso province. NASA image.

Indirect land use change (iLUC) is a widely debated concept that seeks to quantify the impact a new policy or commercial activity has on global patterns of existing land use. These impacts differ …

What is direct land use, or direct land use change?

Direct land use, or direct land use change, refers to land already used for a specific purpose (for example, growing food) and whose future use will achieve the same result. The term “direct land use change” might be used for a situation in which a field was being converted from corn-for-ethanol to switchgrass production, as in both cases the land would ultimately be used to grow crops for biofuel production. “Indirect land use” or “Indirect land use change”, on the …

Diverse Plant Mixtures for Sustainable Biofuels

Mixtures offer advantages over monocultures. Michael Bomford photo.

Learn the benefits of planting diverse prairie grass mixtures for biofuel feedstocks.

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Monocultures versus polycultures

The vast majority of farm-based bioenergy production currently relies on monocultures: pure stands of a single plant species such as corn or soybeans. Yet researchers have long known that plant mixtures or polycultures offer numerous advantages, including resistance to plant diseases, insect pests, weeds …

Soil Erosion and Sustainable Biofuel Production

Learn strategies for growing feedstocks while reducing erosion.

Erosion near the edge of a freshly planted field after heavy spring rain. Bare soil is particularly susceptible to erosion. Crop residues can help hold soil in place. Photo: Michael Bomford.

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Introduction to Soil Erosion

There is strong interest in production and use of agricultural crops for biofuels. However, these crops, like all others, need to be grown in …

Environmental Life Cycle Analysis of Biodiesel

Biofuel life cycle analysis. Photo:  U.S. Dept. of Energy Biomass Program

Explore life cycle analysis to understand how biodiesel impacts the environment.

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Life cycle analysis is a relatively recent tool, growing in popularity, that is used to estimate the environmental, energy and economic performance of a product or a system. …