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Water Use Efficiency and Net Return of Two Bioenergy Crops

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  131591611,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: @2013
Authors:   Enciso Juan, John Jifon, Juan Landivar, Luis Ribera, Hugo Perea, Fabio Rocha, Juan Monge
Keywords:   Bioenergy, irrigation use efficiency, energy sorghum, energy cane

Abstract. The growing concern for possible climate change from carbon dioxide produced by burning fuels and the continuous depletion of the world supply of petroleum, has produced an important opportunity to use cellulosic biofuels as an important mix of alternative renewable energy. Biomass yield is a critical trait for the successful implementation and economy of biofuel feedstock production. However, there are no reported studies that relate the amount of resources used such as water, and the potential yields and genetic traits of cellulosic materials, which is essential information to develop economic studies about the viability of large scale biofuel projects. The development of economic budgets which consider amount of resources used may help farmers select his preferred appropriate cropping pattern and the biofuel crops among a portfolio of feedstocks. The objective of this study was to 1) Establish field experiments to determine yield response to different water amounts for energy sorghum and energy cane in South Texas. 2. Determine the production costs and economic feasibility of these feedstocks. This study reports the yields, water use efficiencies, and net returns of an experiment conducted during 2012 for energy sorghum and energy cane. Five water treatments were applied to this experiment: dry-land, 50% ET, 75% ET, 100% ET and 150% ET. The two energy crops were compared for its potential to produce biomass per unit of water and its net return. There are several factors that increase the net return of the main crops among the main factors are yields and, prices of the crop. Energy sorghum and energy cane produced similar net returns. One of the sugarcane varieties produced higher net returns with the same amount of water applied. It is not recommended to produce energy sorghum or energy canes under dry-land conditions in this area due to negative or low net returns. It was possible to reduce the water applications in sorghum to 75%ET without affecting sorghum yields.

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