Introduction to Energy Efficient Irrigation

Irrigation is Nevada

Irrigation is Nevada. Photo: US EPA and National Archive and Record Administration; Wikimedia Commons.

Learn how efficient irrigation technologies and practices reduce water and power costs.

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Energy Efficient Irrigation

Overhead or sprinkler irrigation is common in vegetable production; it can deliver a lot of water quickly to an entire field. Photo: Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension

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Water Use and Sustainable Biofuel Production

Do you have enough water to start a biofuel feedstock crop? Learn how much water is required to grow and process biofuels.  

Biofuel crop research plots. Photo: Dennis Pennington, Bioenergy Educator, Michigan State University.

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Introduction to Water Use in Biofuels Production

In a world experiencing serious water shortages for meeting …

Key Components of the Biofuels Sustainability Debate

Are biofuels truly sustainable? Explore biofuel sustainability in regards to the environment, economy, energy, and farming livelihood.

Soybean biodiesel fuel.  Photo: Leandro Maranghetti Lourenço, Brazil; Wikimedia Commons.

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Major Questions about the Sustainability of Biofuels


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Biodiversity and Biofuel Production

Learn approaches to help promote biodiversity on the farm while growing biofuel feedstocks.

Corn and soy fields in Minnesota. Photo: US EPA and National Archive and Record Administration; Wikimedia Commons.


Agriculture and Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variation of life at all levels, from genes to organisms to populations. Healthy ecosystems tend to have greater biodiversity.

Most biofuel feedstocks come from agricultural crops grown in highly disturbed ecosystems with relatively …

Sustainable Feedstock Production with Grasses

There are several benefits to using grasses, such as switchgrass and miscanthus, as biofuel feedstocks. They grow on marginal lands, prevent soil erosion better than row crops, and require fewer inputs. Read below about the advantages and drawbacks of grass crops.

Farmers use traditional farm equipment to grow and harvest switchgrass. Photo: Dennis Pennington, Bioenergy Educator, Michigan State University.


Introduction to Grasses as Biofuel Feedstocks

Grasses are …

Biofuels and Greenhouse Gas Reductions

Can we reduce greenhouse gases with biofuels? Explore biofuels, the carbon cycle and potential impacts.

Palm oil plantation, in Indonesia. Photo: Achmad Rabin Taim; Wikimedia Commons.

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Biofuels and the Carbon Cycle

From the standpoint of human-released carbon dioxide, other greenhouse gas emissions, and contributions to climate change biofuels have one large advantage over gasoline, diesel and other fossil fuels: The feedstocks for biofuels …

Biodiesel and the Food vs. Fuel Debate

Does biodiesel production impact food supplies? Learn about the “fuel versus food” debate, examine scenarios showing impacts and factors considered by scientists trying to unravel this complex question.

Harvesting soybeans in Nebraska.  Photo: F. John Hay, Extension Educator, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension.


Genetically Modified Organisms for Bioenergy Systems

Cotton harvest. Photo: Kimberly Vardeman; Wikimedia Commons.

Learn how GMO’s are used in bioenergy systems, and why they are controversial in the sustainability debate.

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Current GMO Research

Genetic engineering is being used and tested in virtually every aspect of bioenergy production, including crops, bacteria, yeasts, and catalysts. For example, researchers are trying to genetically engineer plants that grow faster, have high sugar or starch content, contain more cellulose …

Introduction to Sustainable Farm Energy Use, Conservation and Generation

Most farm operations currently depend on fossil fuel use. Photo: Jeff Piper.

Learn many strategies for improving energy efficiency, and the cheapest and easiest way to reduce energy costs on the farm.

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The Growing Interest in Energy Conservation and Generation on the Farm

In the last few years, interest in alternative energy and energy conservation has skyrocketed due to unstable …

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) for Biofuel Production

Mature stand of switchgrass in its third year of production at Michigan State University. Photo: Dennis Pennington.

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is a native warm-season grass that is a leading biomass crop in the United States. More than 70 years of experience with switchgrass as a hay and forage crop suggest switchgrass will be productive and sustainable on rain-fed marginal land east of the 100th meridian. Long-term plot trials and farm-scale studies in the Great Plains and plot trials in the