This study provides a spatially comprehensive assessment of sustainable agricultural residue removal potential across the United States for bioenergy production. Earlier assessments determining the quantity of agricultural residue that could be sustainably removed for bioenergy production at the regional and national scale faced a number of computational limitations. These limitations included the number of environmental factors, the number of land management scenarios, and the spatial fidelity and spatial extent of the assessment. This study utilizes integrated multi-factor environmental process modeling and high fidelity land use datasets to perform the sustainable agricultural residue removal assessment. Soil type represents the base spatial unit for this study and is modeled using a national soil survey database at the 10–100 m scale. Current crop rotation practices are identified by processing land cover data available from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Cropland Data Layer database. Land management and residue removal scenarios are identified for each unique crop rotation and crop management zone. Estimates of county averages and state totals of sustainably available agricultural residues are provided. The results of the assessment show that in 2011 over 150 million metric tons of agricultural residues could have been sustainably removed across the United States. Projecting crop yields and land management practices to 2030, the assessment determines that over 207 million metric tons of agricultural residues will be able to be sustainably removed for bioenergy production at that time. This biomass resource has the potential for producing over 68 billion liters of cellulosic biofuels.

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D. Muth, Jr.
K.M. Bryden
R.G. Nelson
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