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Bio-Economic Analyses of Biofuel-Based Integrated Farm Drainage Management Systems on Marginal Land in a Salinity and Drainage Impacted Region: The Case of California's Central Valley


Two seemingly separate areas motivate this work. The first is the water scarcity, salinization, and drainage concerns that cause both environmental and private damages in arid regions throughout the world, including the San Joaquin Valley of California's Central Valley. The second is interest in producing bioenergy in an energetically, privately, and environmentally positive manner. These two branches intersect with the growth of highly energetic biofuel crops on marginal, or poor quality, land with saline drainage water as a form of Integrated Farm Drainage Management (IFDM). To analyze this intersection, this dissertation contains three chapters. The first paper consists of background information on the San Joaquin Valley, marginal land, biofuels, and drainage water, and an arithmetic estimation of potential Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) bioenergy production as an IFDM crop. The second paper develops yield as a function of salinity, irrigation systems, irrigation timing, nitrogen, climate effects, and applied water. The functions, which are very flexible, are compared to other functions used in the literature and the results from a field experiment. These functions are used in the third paper, which develops a farm-level bio-economic optimization model of IFDM crops, including the biofuel crop, Brassica spp. These works show that growing biofuel crops, and other IFDM crops, on marginal lands in drainage-impacted regions can be privately beneficial and provide environmental benefits relative to traditional approaches.

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