In Idaho, a new techno-economic analysis by Idaho National Laboratory demonstrated that, by using integrated landscape management (ILM) techniques, bioenergy stakeholders could produce biomass at costs 20% lower than previous assumptions.
Researchers modeled the cost reductions achieved by leveraging ILM strategies in Kansas, Iowa, and Illinois watersheds. Those strategies included switching to low-cost bioenergy crops such as switchgrass in parts of fields where high-cost crops don’t grow well. This resulted in improved economic and sustainability outcomes—including increased profits for producers and reduced soil erosion—while showing the potential to provide a new revenue stream and a source of biomass for the bioenergy industry at a reduced cost.
ILM techniques include harvesting crop residues in high-yield areas and optimizing the operational efficiency of biomass harvest equipment using GPS data and computers to guide their movements through fields.
This is a new modeling technique within the agricultural community enabled by research expertise and capabilities (computers with AI capability, for instance) at the National Labs that was not available until now.