MODELING ENERGY AND GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS FOR FARM SCALE PRODUCTION

Open Access
Author:
Camargo, Gustavo
Graduate Program:
Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
July 02, 2009
Committee Members:
  • Dr Tom Richard, Thesis Advisor
  • Thomas Lehman Richard, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • greenhouse gas
  • energy
  • agricultural systems
  • dairy farm
  • modeling
Abstract:
The increasing demand for renewable sources of energy has triggered many researchers to search for new alternative fuels derived from agricultural systems. The most sustainable way to do this is to focus on strategies that maintain current food production, while producing biofuels from alternative cropping systems that maximize energy production efficiency without compromising environmental integrity. This research aimed to address the often cited challenge of sustainably supplying the biomass needed to meet the increased demand. The main purpose of this research was to use energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) analysis to explore and evaluate double cropping systems, livestock interactions, and biofuel production systems. Whole-farm computer models were used to compare these different agricultural strategies and systems. These tools simulate the whole farm systems making it possible to analyze a very large range of possibilities, and evaluate their performance under different assumptions. The Farm Energy Analysis Tool (FEAT), a static, deterministic, data-base model, was created to use a whole-farm approach to evaluate energy and GHG for different agricultural systems. This research identified cropping strategies and systems that resulted in a higher energetic efficiency and lower net GHG emission. This simple, yet effective, computer modeling approach allowed for a rapid evaluation which provided useful estimates needed for decision making and policy establishment. However, empirical evidence is needed from field experiments to validate simulation results.