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Using satellite vegetation and compound topographic indices to map highly erodible cropland buffers for cellulosic biofuel crop developments in eastern Nebraska, USA

August 1, 2015

Cultivating annual row crops in high topographic relief waterway buffers has negative environmental effects and can be environmentally unsustainable. Growing perennial grasses such as switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) for biomass (e.g., cellulosic biofuel feedstocks) instead of annual row crops in these high relief waterway buffers can improve local environmental conditions (e.g., reduce soil erosion and improve water quality through lower use of fertilizers and pesticides) and ecosystem services (e.g., minimize drought and flood impacts on production; improve wildlife habitat, plant vigor, and nitrogen retention due to post-senescence harvest for cellulosic biofuels; and serve as carbon sinks). The main objectives of this study are to: (1) identify cropland areas with high topographic relief (high runoff potentials) and high switchgrass productivity potential in eastern Nebraska that may be suitable for growing switchgrass, and (2) estimate the total switchgrass production gain from the potential biofuel areas. Results indicate that about 140,000 hectares of waterway buffers in eastern Nebraska are suitable for switchgrass development and the total annual estimated switchgrass biomass production for these suitable areas is approximately 1.2 million metric tons. The resulting map delineates high topographic relief croplands and provides useful information to land managers and biofuel plant investors to make optimal land use decisions regarding biofuel crop development and ecosystem service optimization in eastern Nebraska.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2015
Title Using satellite vegetation and compound topographic indices to map highly erodible cropland buffers for cellulosic biofuel crop developments in eastern Nebraska, USA
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolind.2015.06.019
Authors Yingxin Gu, Bruce K. Wylie
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecological Indicators
Series Number
Index ID 70156319
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center

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