UNIT 3.1: Introduction

This unit presents an overview of the impacts of bioenergy production on water resources. Production of bioenergy feedstocks takes place on the landscape, within watersheds. Knowledge of the water cycle and how it functions in a watershed is important to understanding bioenergy production impacts on water resources. Increasing bioenergy production may require increased row crop production through Ecological Intensification of cropping systems. Water is needed at various rates and times throughout the bioenergy production cycle, from crop growth to feedstock processing into biofuel. Water use and its impacts on the many aspects of the water cycle need to be part of the decision making process for biofuels crop selection and production.

This unit will provide an introduction to these topics. Several topics will be further explored in later units. You should have an introductory understanding of water and bioenergy issues after completing this unit.


Learning Objectives

  1. Discuss water quality and quantity issues associated with bioenergy crop production.
  2. Determine BMPs (Best Management Practices) for converting CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) and other marginal lands to bioenergy crop production, accounting for regional variation
  3. Identify water conservation strategies for the production of bioenergy crops
  4. Understand ecological intensification in the context of landscape conversion and bioenergy crop production


Guiding Questions

  • What are the primary water resource concerns of bioenergy production?
  • What percent of precipitation returns to the atmosphere as evapo-transpiration?
  • What are the goals of Ecological Intensification of cropping systems?
  • What are the challenges facing the bioenergy feedstock production industry that can impact water resources