Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Agricultural and Biological Engineering

First Advisor

Indrajeet Chaubey

Second Advisor

Sylvie M Brouder

Committee Member 1

Keith Cherkauer


With an increasing global demand for fossil fuels, there is a growing amount of concern about greenhouse gas releases. Concurrently, interest in alternative sources of energy, including bioenergy has expanded considerably in the recent years. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandates that 136.3 billion liters of biofuels must be produced, with 60.5 billion liters coming from cellulosic biofuel crops by 2022. Potential sources of cellulosic biomass are: maize residue, sorghum, switchgrass, Miscanthus, and woody crops. The increase in biofuel crop production required to meet the mandate raises questions regarding the additional amount of agricultural land area needed, as well as the potential competition for land with food and feed production. The utilization of marginal lands, lands not suitable for crop growth due to infertility, slope, soil degradation or poor yields of common annual crops such as corn, is an alternative, but could come at a higher environmental cost. There has been little field research investigating the environmental consequences of using marginal land for biofuel crop production. The objectives of this research were to quantify surface and subsurface nutrient losses and determine production potential of six crops (Miscanthus,