Establishing Validation Sites for Field-Level Emissions Quantification from Grain Sorghum in Southern Great Plains

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Exploratory Topics
Stillwater, Oklahoma
Project Term:
10/01/2020 - 06/30/2022

Critical Need:

This topic works to establish validation sites for field-level emissions quantification of agricultural bioenergy feedstock production. These teams will work towards the development of “ground truth” solutions to establish measurements and protocols for emissions monitoring at the field level to create publically available, open-source, high-resolution datasets to support testing and validation of emerging biofuel production monitoring technologies. The projects will also compliment selections in ARPA-E’s full SMARTFARM program, further supporting and validating the selections made through this full funding opportunity. Ethanol production is one of the largest consumers of domestic grain in the U.S., and developing sustainable production methods for ethanol and bio-based fuels has great potential to both reduce emissions and potentially provide a net emissions-free source of energy. While the economic and emissions impacts of ethanol production nationally are clear, field-level contributions remain unclear. The lack of understanding of field-level feedstock emissions, combined with the absence of economic incentives beyond yield, leaves feedstock producers to estimate and assume risks to their primary revenue stream by new management practices. By establishing sites and protocols for measuring the impact on yield increasing and emissions reducing technologies, these teams will bridge the technology gap between feedstock producers and existing market incentives to de-risk sustainable management practices, defray the cost of monitoring their impact, reduce biofuel feedstock production emissions, and broadly enable a future carbon farming industry.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Oklahoma State University (OSU) will synthesize scientific principles from eddy covariance (a method enabling observation of gas and energy exchange between ecosystems at earth’s surface and the atmosphere), plant and soil science, remote sensing, and crop modeling to measure field-level emissions. The OSU-led team will collect data for field-level emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane in grain sorghum production systems in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Current estimates are from point-based measurements extrapolated using modeling approaches that lack field-scale validation or comprehensive ground truth data. The project’s final deliverable will be gold-standard, publicly-available data sets for quantifying field-level greenhouse gas emissions from grain sorghum production systems.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Marina Sofos
Project Contact:
Prof. Vijaya Gopal Kakani
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Texas A&M University
Kansas State University

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