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Are enough farmers willing to grow biomass on marginal lands?

Using marginal lands to grow cellulosic biomass crops could provide up to 215 gallons of ethanol per acre with substantial greenhouse gas mitigation, according to a recent study published in Nature. But that assumes that enough farmers are willing to use their lands for that purpose. According to a study by CALS economist Brad Barham, fewer than 30 percent are willing to do so. That could be a problem, because it takes a critical mass of local biomass production in an area to make bioenergy feasible there. The good news is that there were some clusters—or “hotspots”—of farmers who showed favorable attitudes toward the use of marginal land for bioenergy. These hotspots could be a window of opportunity for bioenergy.

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