Skip to Main Content

 The University of Tennessee | Institute of Agriculture

Tennessee Rural Economic Development

Bio-Based Energy Analysis Group

BEAG News October 2012
Six presentations were made at the Sun Grant National Conference in New Orleans between October 3 and 5 by BEAG personnel.  The presentations links are summarized below. Inside each summary pdf is a link to the full presentation file.

1.   Dr. T. Edward Yu presented a study that examined feedstock costs and hauling emissions looking as the impacts these have on the siting of a Tennessee switchgrass-based biorefinery.  This study titled “Feedstock Costs & Hauling Emissions and Their Impacts on the Location of a Switchgrass-based Biorefinery: A Case Study of Tennessee” by T. Edward Yu, Joshua S. Fu, Burton C. English, and James A. Larson
2.   Dr. T. Edward Yu also presented a study that examined a cost evaluation of various logistics systems that move biomass from the field to biorefinery.  This study was titled “Economics of an Alternative Preprocessing Technology in Switchgrass Supply Chain for Biofuel Production in East TNby Edward Yu, James Larson, Yuan Gao, and Burton English
3.   Dr James Larson presented a study on the impact of storage using various methods of protection  on different types of packaging.  The study’s coauthors, Burton C.  English, Edward Yu, Nicole Labe’, Don Tyler, and Lindsey Kline, examine dry matter loss and chemical composition of the bales through time. Harvest, storage, & transportation have been identified as barriers to the development of a sustainable switchgrass feedstock supply chain.  Harvest will occur in the Nov-Feb. time frame and storage will be required for a significant time period. During outdoor storage, weathering will occur and that is thought to negatively affect biomass.   
4.   Dr. James Larson presented a study on the economic impacts that could occur if Tennessee were to produce 20% of its fuel use with herbaceous crops.  The study,  titled “Potential for Tennessee to Meet a 20% Renewable Transportation Fuel Demand with Herbaceous Crops”, was coauthored, Burton C. English, James A. Larson, Edward Yu, Brad Wilson, and Jamey Menard, examines the impacts that the initial plant would have as well as the impact of 11 and 17 80 million gallon bio-refineries.  The economic impact of the 17 80million gallon facilities would be over six billion dollars annually to the state’s economy creating 28,000 jobs. 
5.   Dr. Chad Hellwinckel presented a study on green house gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture.  The study titled “Projecting GHG Emissions from Agriculture: Effects of Shifting Trends in Cellulosic Feedstock Data”, was coauthored by Daniel De La Torre Ugarte  and examines the impacts that the billion ton revised study has on environmental performance of agriculture.  In this analysis new costs of production, new yields, new environmental constraints, and the addition of standing wood harvest provided a finding that there would be less sequestration as a result of decreased herbaceous feedstock and increased standing trees harvested. 
6.   In the final study presented via poster at the SunGrant conference examined the impact of nitrogen on switchgrass yields.  This study was coauthored by Dr’s Christopher N. Boyer, Roland K. Roberts, James A. Larson, Burton C. English, Donald D. Tyler, and Vivian Zhou.  It examined the impact of nitrogen on switchgrass yields over four distinct landscapes (a) well-drained level upland (WDLU); (2) a well- to moderately well-drained flood plain (WDFP); (3) a moderate- to somewhat poorly-drained eroded sloping upland (MDSU); and (4) a poorly-drained flood plain (PDFP).

BEAG News October 2012
Former student Adrienne E. Marra (, along with researchers Kimberly L. Jensen (, Christopher D. Clark (, Burton C. English (, and R. Jamey Menard ( in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, recently completed a study examining farmers’ attitudes toward switchgrass as a biofuel feedstock.  The title of the research was Information Sources and Farmers’ Attitudes toward Switchgrass Production as a Biofuel Feedstock and is to be published in the October 2012 Journal of Extension issue.  Data from a mail survey of farmers across the southern U.S. (AL, AR, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA) ascertained farm producers familiarity with switchgrass, use of information sources about switchgrass, attitudes toward switchgrass, and how use of information sources influence these attitudes.  Farmers who are familiar with switchgrass tend to use multiple information sources and rely on these sources to formulate their opinions about whether to grow the energy crop.  For the factors influencing growing decisions, almost all of the information sources used were found to have a significant impact on at least one decision-making factor.  Not surprisingly, the study also finds that profitability is important to farmers when it comes to interest in growing switchgrass with farmers indicating at least a somewhat interest in its production if profitable.  The study results also indicate that many farmers are still unfamiliar with the production of switchgrass as a biofuel feedstock, particularly older farmers, less informed, with low farm incomes. These findings highlight the need for providing continuing education about switchgrass to farmers, both those familiar and unfamiliar with the energy crop.  For those farmers seeking information to support on-farm decisions, Agricultural Extension is uniquely positioned to have significant impacts on their decisions regarding switchgrass production as a bioenergy feedstock.

BEAG News October 2012
Consumer Purchase Intentions for Flexible-Fuel and Hybrid-Electric Vehicles
, Xiaogu Li, Christopher Clark, Kim Jensen, Steven Yen, and Burton English just completed a study that explores the factors that influence consumer likelihood of purchasing two different types of alternative-fuel vehicles – flexible fuel (FFV) and hybrid-electric (HEV). Data for the study come from an online survey of US automobile owners. Results suggest that concerns about energy security, the environment, and the availability of alternative fuels, along with demographic factors, have significant effects on consumer purchase expectations for alternative-fuel vehicles.  Males, Republicans, and those driving more miles in a typical day are less likely to purchase an HEV.  While others have found that greater educational attainment is positively associated with preferences for alternative fueled vehicles, our more detailed differentiation by vehicle type shows that it is positively associated with increased expectations of buying a FFV but not an HEV. The study is published in Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, volume 17D, issue 1, January 2012. This research was funded in part by a grant from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program. Although the research described in this article has been funded wholly or in part by the US Department of Agriculture, it does not necessarily reflect the views of the Department and no official endorsement should be inferred.


Contact Us

Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

Dr. Burton C. English
2621 Morgan Circle
308C Morgan Hall
Knoxville, TN 37996-4518


Phone: 865-974-3716
Fax: 865.974.4829