Date of Graduation

12-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biological Engineering (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Advisor

Dharmendra Saraswat

Committee Member

Andy Pereira

Second Committee Member

Thomas A. Costello

Abstract

Energy security through increased biofuel production is one of the components of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) 2007. As per EISA 2007 mandate, appropriate independent research institutes are required to assess concerns to natural biodiversity due to biofuel production and report it to the Congress through the Environment Protection Agency (EPA). Planners, researchers, and agencies concerned with environmental regulations, ideally, would like to have location-specific information about the impacts for developing appropriate management interventions. This study examines long-term impacts on water quality in response to targeted (i.e. marginal lands) production of biofuel crops by setting up two SWAT models. One of the SWAT model was set-up using typical modeling practice i.e. by using a single land use layer, whereas, the second SWAT model was set-up by incorporating dynamic land use change data. The Cache River Watershed in Arkansas, a watershed selected for Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), was used for this case study. The crops of interest were Giant Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus) and Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L). Results indicated that sediment, total phosphorus and total nitrogen loadings decreased at the watershed outlet when these crops were cultivated on marginal crop lands thereby making them potentially useful for improving water quality in Cache River Watershed.

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