Factors affecting willingness to cultivate switchgrass: Evidence from a farmer survey in Missouri

Pralhad Burli, Pankaj Lal, Bernabas Wolde, Shibu Jose, Sougata Bardhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Switchgrass is considered as one of the important feedstocks that can contribute towards the attainment of bioenergy goals set under the Renewable Fuels Standard. Yet, the commercial viability of switchgrass based bioenergy is a much debated topic owing to supply side challenges emanating from limited raw materials. It is therefore critical to understand the crucial role of the farmer by studying the willingness to cultivate switchgrass dedicated for bioenergy. To our knowledge, this is the first survey undertaken to assess the farmer preferences and participation in bioenergy markets after the new administration has assumed office, and provides some important insights. Our analysis reveals that the risk attitudes of farmers have an important bearing on their willingness to cultivate switchgrass. Having prior awareness of switchgrass makes farmers less likely to adopt whereas a preference to cultivate a crop after seeing them on demonstration plots at university extension meetings positively influences willingness decisions. Landholdings under pasture/grazing use and under forest/woodland use increases farmer willingness to cultivate switchgrass. On the other hand, having land under the Conservation Reserve Program, lands that experienced flooding or water stress in recent years, or lands that confront erosion issues did not have a significant influence on farmer willingness. While the inherent uncertainty of the cellulosic bioenergy industry is well known, policies that provide a safety net to protect farmers from the downside are an important issue for farmers who are willing to cultivate switchgrass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-29
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy Economics
Volume80
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

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Keywords

  • Bioenergy
  • Cellulosic
  • Farmer preference
  • Missouri
  • Switchgrass
  • Willingness

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