Date of Award:

2012

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Plants, Soils, and Climate

Advisor/Chair:

Ralph Whitesides

Abstract

The goal of the Non-Traditional Agronomic Land (NTAL) Project is to develop sustainable, agronomic, crop growth methods that will allow biofuel feedstock production to occur on marginal or non-traditional plots of land, e.g., roadways, railroads, airports, and military installations. Recent economic feasibility models by Utah State University (USU) indicate these lands could, in theory, produce one billion gallons of economically viable new feedstock annually. Specifically, USU models show that if 60 % (600 pounds/acre) of dry land oilseed can be produced, maintenance costs of these NTALs can be recovered, as well as production of approximately 25 gallons/acre of renewable biodiesel. This feedstock yield would increase U.S. biodiesel production between 100- 200 %, and save federal and state agencies substantial financial resources.

Preliminary impact considerations that have been taken into account for production on non-traditional land include: safety, structural integrity, economics, wildlife impacts, ecology/environmental impacts, water quality and grower concerns, soil quality, water use, generation/reduction of hazardous/toxic substances, air emissions, wastewater discharges, and reductions in use of pesticides and fertilizer.

Canola and Safflower plots were established in 2007 and 2008 along roadsides in four different regions of the Utah I-15 corridor. Harsh climatic conditions with above average temperatures and below average precipitation existed in both years. Less than 50 % average yields for safflower and 25 % average yields for canola under normal climatic conditions were produced. Roadside plots all yielded under 200 pounds/acre of seed for both crops. In 2008, seeds were placed 2 inches deep during planting to position them closer to moisture, and no measureable yield was observed for any crops in control plots planted on traditional farmland and less than 10 pounds/acre in roadside plots.

We found that it was not economical to grow oilseed crops for biodiesel production along Utah roadsides under the climatic conditions experienced during 2007- 2008 while using a Tye Pasture Pleaser No-Till Drill. (98 Pages)

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Agriculture Commons

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