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-   -   Economics Biofuels are wiping out the Midwest's grasslands. (http://www.chiefsplanet.com/BB/showthread.php?t=270232)

Direckshun 02-20-2013 08:55 PM

Biofuels are wiping out the Midwest's grasslands.
 
Short term economic gain for some people, long-term pain for everybody else?

Sounds about right.

I'd love to hear some input on this stuff from the people most affected, in Nebraska or Iowa.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...the-dust-bowl/

Biofuel rush wiping out America’s grasslands at fastest pace since the 1930s
Posted by Brad Plumer
on February 20, 2013 at 10:00 am

America’s prairies are shrinking. Spurred on by the rush for biofuels, farmers are digging up grasslands in the northern Plains to plant crops at the quickest pace since the 1930s. While that’s been a boon for farmers, the upheaval could create unexpected problems.

A new study by Christopher Wright and Michael Wimberly of South Dakota State University finds that U.S. farmers converted more than 1.3 million acres of grassland into corn and soybean fields between 2006 and 2011, driven by high crop prices and biofuel mandates (right). In states like Iowa and South Dakota, some 5 percent of pasture is turning into cropland each year.

It’s a big transformation in the heart of the country: The authors conclude that the rates of grassland loss are “comparable to deforestation rates in Brazil, Malaysia, and Indonesia.” And those changes are already having plenty of impacts.

For one, farmers are now growing crops on increasingly marginal land. In Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, corn and soy are planted in areas that are especially vulnerable to drought. But farmers take the risk because corn and soy have become so lucrative — and, in part, because the federal government offers subsidized crop insurance in case of failure. (The study also finds evidence that many farmers are no longer enticed by federal conservation programs that pay for grassland cover.)

The loss of pasture itself could also have big environmental impacts. Studies have found that grasslands hold carbon in their soil better than cropland does. So there’s a climate-change angle here. A 2008 paper in Science argued that fuels like corn ethanol and soy biodiesel lose a portion of their carbon advantage over gasoline if farmers are simply digging up virgin grassland to grow the crops.

There’s a wildlife angle, too: The Prairie Pothole Region, traversing Minnesota and the Dakotas, is one of the continent’s key breeding grounds for ducks and other ground-nesting birds. Tall grasses in the area help sustain a number of species and shield birds from predators. But corn fields are now encroaching on the habitat, and bird populations are dropping.

In recent years, some environmental groups have argued that it doesn’t make sense for the federal government to keep subsidizing this push into the prairies. A recent report (pdf) from the Environmental Working Group, for instance, argues that Congress should scale back crop insurance for farmers who move into the country’s grasslands and wetlands. Farm groups, for their part, say the insurance is vital for their work — instead, Congress should expand conservation programs.

And what about biofuels? Groups like EWG have criticized ethanol mandates for pushing up corn and soybean prices and driving the crop boom. There’s a lot more hope for next-generation cellulosic biofuels grown from switchgrass or other plants with a much smaller environmental footprint. Or biodiesel made from algae, say. But until those become viable, the crop rush continues.

Direckshun 02-20-2013 08:55 PM

Map showing the percentage of grasslands that were converted into corn or soybean fields between 2006 and 2011:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...816ff6-s2.jpeg

Count Alex's Losses 02-20-2013 08:57 PM

Thanks, Obama!

mlyonsd 02-20-2013 08:58 PM

This is absolutely true. Not only grasslands but long standing tree groves. Some trees 75 years and older.

If any fuel can't live on it's own merit, bio, wind, solar, **** it.

AndChiefs 02-20-2013 08:59 PM

This isn't exactly surprising news.

stonedstooge 02-20-2013 09:01 PM

How many million acres are in CRP? There's been idle land for years that hasn't been planted

mlyonsd 02-20-2013 09:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by stonedstooge (Post 9420604)
How many million acres are in CRP? There's been idle land for years that hasn't been planted

CRP has dwindled drastically over the last 10 years.

stonedstooge 02-20-2013 09:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mlyonsd (Post 9420609)
CRP has dwindled drastically over the last 10 years.

I'd like to see the figures on it.

LiveSteam 02-20-2013 09:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by stonedstooge (Post 9420628)
I'd like to see the figures on it.

Me to. Shit tons of it here in Nebraska.

mlyonsd 02-20-2013 09:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by stonedstooge (Post 9420628)
I'd like to see the figures on it.

Take this one with a grain of salt because I didn't verify the author's source.

Other than that, take my word that most of the CRP around me is now tilled under. I own about 6 acres of natural pond and slough that the neighbor farmer came to me asking if I'd consider selling so he could bulldoze.

HonestChieffan 02-20-2013 09:24 PM

Crp was planted to grasss.

There are no efforts to maintain pasture. Only crop land has government programs.

Many acres converted from grass were old fescue or brome not native prairie

Government should stay the hell out of this. Thee is no need for government to be involved

stonedstooge 02-20-2013 09:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mlyonsd (Post 9420676)
Take this one with a grain of salt because I didn't verify the author's source.

Other than that, take my word that most of the CRP around me is now tilled under. I own about 6 acres of natural pond and slough that the neighbor farmer came to me asking if I'd consider selling so he could bulldoze.

Thanks. I tried to find info in a search and couldn't come up with much

LiveSteam 02-20-2013 09:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HonestChieffan (Post 9420680)
Crp was planted to grasss.

There are no efforts to maintain pasture. Only crop land has government programs.

Many acres converted from grass were old fescue or brome not native prairie

Government should stay the hell out of this. Thee is no need for government to be involved

If that means I can harvest more than 3 pheasants a day. I agree

mlyonsd 02-20-2013 09:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LiveSteam (Post 9420694)
If that means I can harvest more than 3 pheasants a day. I agree

5 years ago I counted 87 pheasants in my yard on a cold winter day.

Now I hear coyotes more often then cackling roosters.

LiveSteam 02-20-2013 09:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mlyonsd (Post 9420717)
.

Now I hear coyotes

Stop it man.


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