Assessment of bioenergy crop production along North Carolina right-of-ways.

Assessment of bioenergy crop production along North Carolina right-of-ways.

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  • Abstract:
    The production of flowering oilseeds along highway right-of-ways provides land managers with a unique opportunity to meet safety and vegetation management objectives while providing enhance roadside aesthetics for motorists. Additionally, these operations provide an economically valuable grain commodity that can either be used to offset the management costs or provide a feedstock that can be used in the biodiesel production process. This two-year research effort, sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) investigated the cultivation of oilseed crops along North Carolina highway rights-of-way (ROWs) which would ultimately be destined for conversion to biodiesel and use in their fleet of motor vehicles. To achieve this goal, objectives were established to (1) evaluate oilseed crop requirements and eligibility for production based on North Carolina’s climatic conditions and highway rights-of-way characteristics; (2) perform a series of plot trials to select an optimal tillage method (3) develop a GIS program to quantify and map eligible NCDOT highway ROW acreage. Results of this study showed that canola and sunflowers are the most eligible oilseeds for production along highway right-of-ways in North Carolina. Both crops generated grain yields similar to yields produced in traditional agronomic settings. Additionally, no-till establishment produced yields similar to plots established with clean, conventional tillage systems. Based on GIS analysis, 14, 962 mi (24,079 km) of eligible ROW was identified in North Carolina.
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