Analyzing the Effect of Policy, Field Geometry, and Environmental Criteria on Switchgrass Breakeven Price in a Landscape Design System
A landscape design system (LDS) combines subfield management and precision agriculture to integrate a bioenergy crop into portions of a row crop field that is deemed unprofitable, environmentally unsustainable, or both. This analysis utilizes switchgrass as the bioenergy crop, and calculates the switchgrass breakeven price for inclusion in a LDS with corn. Field geometry is the arrangement of switchgrass subfields in a LDS. We utilize economic and environmental criteria to create multiple geometries for each field and calculate each one's subsequent switchgrass breakeven price. This tests whether economic and environmental incentives align for a given field. We find the overlap between unprofitable and environmentally poor areas varies for each field, shown by the increase in breakeven price for field geometries using environmental criterion versus profitability. The switchgrass breakeven price for Field 1C's water erosion criterion was $192.59 ton-1, compared $176.15 ton-1 with a profitability criterion. However, Field 5A's hybrid (a mix of economic and environmental) produced a lower breakeven price at $151.80 ton-1 than a profitability criterion at $152.70. Previous literature stressed the necessity for policy in order to make switchgrass production in a LDS viable, so we tested the impact of a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Soil Health and Income Protection Program (SHIPP) payments on switchgrass breakeven price. The average switchgrass breakeven price with land costs for the high willingness to convert (WTC), profitability criterion is $165.79 ton-1. With CRP and SHIPP policy payments, this average decreases to $93.95 ton-1 and $134.49 ton-1, respectively. While both policies reduce the switchgrass breakeven, we find both to be relatively inefficient in accomplishing environmental improvement goals.
Tyner, Purdue University.
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