Quantifying Total and Sustainable Agricultural Biomass Resources in South Dakota – A Preliminary Assessment


  • Kurt A. Rosentrater USDA-ARS


Conversion of biomass is considered the next major advance in biorenewable fuels, energy, and products.  Wholesale conversion to biomass utilization could result in removal of current crop residues from agricultural fields (on prime agricultural lands) or even implementation of different crops and cropping strategies (i.e., switchgrass on marginal lands).  To date, the driver for biomass processing has been economics and limitations on the conversion of the lignocellulose.  Over the last forty years significant investments and resultant changes in management practices in the agricultural sector have focused on soil and water conservation.  One of the major efforts has focused on conservation-till or no-till, with the goal of retaining biomass residues in the field on the surface to prevent erosion, improve soil structure, and increase biological diversity.  Environmental implications of significant changes to current cropping systems have not been thoroughly addressed, however.  This paper will focus on using South Dakota as a case study to determine the potential for biomass and discuss the implications thereof for the utilization of these materials.  We will consider optimizing the amount of biomass that can be harvested with and without consideration of a minimum level of crop residue left in the field.  Meeting our nation’s transportation fuel needs can be accomplished sustainably, but these issues need to be addressed now, at the outset of this revolution.

Author Biography

Kurt A. Rosentrater, USDA-ARS

Lead Scientist

Agricultural and Bioprocess Enginer






IV-Energy in Agriculture