Novel Commercial Farm-field Network to Quantify Emissions and Carbon Storage from Agricultural Bioenergy Feedstock Production

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Exploratory Topics
Lincoln, Nebraska
Project Term:
10/01/2020 - 03/31/2024

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:

The University of Nebraska, Lincoln (UNL) will leverage existing data sets and new data collection methodologies to quantify fertilizer- and biomass-induced emissions, biomass nitrogen content, carbon dioxide uptake, and soil organic carbon sequestered—while providing agronomic management insights to farmers, farming communities, and agricultural supply chains. This team will use eddy covariance flux towers and static chamber methods to quantify field-scale emissions, while using active chambers to quantify fertilizer and soil surface biomass emissions. UNL will combine the data with site-specific data collected through telemetrically connected agricultural equipment to understand management, soil, greenhouse gas, water quality, and productivity interactions in feedstock production for biofuels.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Steven Singer
Project Contact:
Dr. Christopher Neale
Press and General Inquiries Email:
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