Market Information on Sourcing Cellulosic Feedstock for Biofuel Production in Northern Plains Region of the United States
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This study investigates the availability crop residues within 100 mile radius of a potential biorefinery in southeast North Dakota. Due to the lack of market information on biomass residue supply, we conducted farm focus group survey sessions and empirical field studies to evaluate farmers’ willingness to supply crop residues and timeliness of harvesting. Using a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) application, we locate residue supply areas and numerically show that there are enough crop residues to meet the biorefinery’s supply needs. Our evidence from farm focus group shows that farmers may not be willing to sell their crop residues because of concerns for labor availability and soil fertility losses. Farmers’ decisions to supply crop residues depend on the willingness of a biofuel firm to offer them a contract and ensure price stability. Farmers are unwilling to take any risk in supplying the residues. They prefer to transfer ownership of residues immediately after harvest and have an external party bale, store and transport the goods. The biofuel firm requires crop residues be collected dry to prevent mold. This will challenge Northern Plains farmers who wait to collect stovers prior to winter.
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