UNIT 3.2: Watershed Level Impacts

This unit describes the watershed, water quality, and water quantity impacts of bioenergy production. Conversion of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands to biofuel feedstock production is a focus, as is Ecological Intensification of cropping systems. Watershed level impacts to water quality and quantity can be significant if large areas of a watershed are converted to feedstock production. Whether the change is positive or negative will depend on cropping changes and management, as introduced by Dr. Tom Franti of the University of Nebraska below:

This unit describes these issues with a focus on corn-grain ethanol production, and provides a broad understanding of watershed impacts.

Guiding Questions

  • What affect do plants have on runoff amount?
  • What impact will establishing perennial bioenergy crops have on water resources?
  • What BMPs are useful when growing bioenergy crops?
  • What should be considered when converting from CRP to a bioenergy crop?
  • What are the characteristics of Ecological Intensification?