Where to Grow Woody Bioenergy Crops?

Demand for bioenergy is expected to grow – as much as 10 times larger than present. Woody crops such as poplar or loblolly pine have the potential to fuel this growth. But where should such crops be planted? How to minimize transportation costs? Where are the opportunity zones? Where are the risks? USDA Forest Service…  More 

Innovations in Forest Operations Technology

Cut and haul costs. Elemental time study. Machine production hour. Ask USDA Forest Service scientist Dana Mitchell about any of these forest engineering terms, and you’re in for a treat. As a research forest engineer, Mitchell’s work focuses on improving the technology and business of forest operations – with a broader goal of improving forest…  More 

Eucalyptus or Loblolly: Which Uses More Water?

When asked which tree uses more water, the native, industry favorite loblolly pine or the ultra-fast growing immigrant from Australia, Eucalyptus, U.S. Forest Service biological scientist Chris Maier had a quick answer: both. “Growing wood requires water,” says Maier. Loblolly and slash pines currently serve as the main sources of wood fiber in the South,…  More 

Switchgrass in Pine Plantations

In the southeastern U.S., loblolly pine plantations cover about 37 million acres of land. “Growing switchgrass in loblolly pine plantations could provide a sustainable source of biomass for cellulosic energy,” says U.S. Forest Service research hydrologist Devendra Amatya. “Growing the two species together could also help maintain the economic and environmental benefits of a forest…  More 

Southern Forest Products: An Economic Engine

A storymap developed by USDA Forest Service researchers allows users to interactively chart the ebb and flow of forest products across the southern states. Using Forest Service Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data loaded onto Esri’s ArcGIS Online (AGOL) platform, Southern Forest Products – An Economic Engine, provides a constantly updated guide to southern timber product outputs…  More 

Studying Woody Biomass for Energy Across the U.S.

Woody biomass includes stems, small branches, treetops, needles, leaves, and sometimes the roots of trees and shrubs. These materials are byproducts of forest management activities such as thinning, but they can also be a valuable source of bioenergy. Five U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists – John Stanturf, Emile Gardiner, Leslie Groom, Dana…  More 

Turning Trees into Bioenergy: What are the Effects on Soil?

Timber has been harvested for hundreds of years, but current bioenergy operations use more parts of a tree than ever before; small branches that used to be considered non-merchantable are now often harvested instead of left rotting on the forest floor. “The increased use of small branches and formerly non-merchantable wood has been linked to changes in…  More 

How Sustainable are Eucalyptus Plantations?

Eucalypts – woody plants originally found in Australia — have been identified as one of the best feedstocks for bioenergy production due to their fast-growth rate and coppicing ability, but there are concerns about adverse environmental effects, some related to water consumption, and their water use efficiency is still poorly understood. U.S. Forest Service research…  More 

Increasing Our Knowledge of Small Woody Biomass Harvesting

U.S. Forest Service research helped the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests move forward in implementing a new forest plan by setting up studies to address stakeholder concerns about the effects of harvesting for biomass feedstocks. The Lower Cowpasture Restoration and Management Project proposed for the Warm Springs Ranger District and the George Washington and…  More 

Renewable Energy Policies Drive Production of Southern Wood Pellets for Bioenergy

A recently released study led by U.S. Forest Service scientists and published by the Forest Service’s Southern Research Station (SRS) finds that policies in the European Union (EU) and elsewhere requiring the use of renewable and low greenhouse gas-emitting energy are driving demand for wood pellets used to generate bioenergy. This demand could provide new…  More