Biomass availability

In 2005, the USDA and DOE released a joint report on the feasibility of biomass? supply to fulfill national renewable fuel goals. The report, Biomass as feedstock for a bioenergy and bioproducts Industry: the technical feasibility of a billion-ton annual supply, found sufficient land resources in the U.S. for fulfilling the goal of replacing 30% of current U.S. petroleum consumption with biofuels by 2030. Moreover, the study concluded that the 1 billion dry tons of biomass materials needed annually could be sustainably produced with “modest changes” in land use and management practices within U.S. agricultural lands and forestlands.

In 2008, Sandia National Laboratory and General Motors’ R&D Center conducted a joint biofuels systems analysis to assess the feasibility, impacts, limitations and enabling factors of large-scale? production of biofuels in the U.S. The findings of the analysis is reported in the 90-billion gallon biofuel deployment study. According to the report 90 billion gallons per year of biomass-derived ethanol can be produced and distributed with 15 billion gallons per year from corn grain ethanol and the balance from cellulosic ethanol?. The production of 45 billion gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol requires 480 million tons of biomass, of which 215 million tons was projected to come from dedicated perennial energy crops, requiring 48 million acres of planted cropland from what is now “idle, pasture of non-grazed forest”.

According to the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) greatest availability of crop residues is within the Corn Belt, and among counties along the Mississippi River in the central Mississippi Valley (figure 1). According to the Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL), hybrid poplars are suitable throughout the U.S., except in southeastern states where polar and other hardwood species are suitable for growth (figure 2.17). Areas most suitable for growth of switchgrass? and reed canary grass are the Plains states and Texas, Corn Belt states, and the Upper Midwest (figure 2). The most suitable area for growth of Miscanthus? and other tropical grasses? is among southeastern states (figure 2). According to analysis by NREL, counties with greatest potential biomass supply are capable of producing greater than 500,000 tons annually (figure 3). These counties have high amounts of forest residues, wood and paper industry wastes, and urban/construction wastes. Counties with high amounts of agricultural residues are also among those with highest biomass supply, potentially producing 250-500,000 tons of biomass annually.

Figure 1. Distribution of crop residues potentially used in bioenergy? production. (NREL.)

Figure 2. Generalized distribution of perennial feedstock? sources in the U.S. (ORNL.)

Figure 3. Total biomass resources available within the U.S. (NREL.)

Anerobic Digestion and Biogas

UW Extension have created seven modules focused on the use of anaerobic digestion technologies. Details of the process are introduced, as well as factors that influence start-up, operation and control of anaerobic digesters at different scales.

Contact Us:


Carol Williams
(608) 890-3858 (office)
(515) 520-7494 (mobile)
Department of Agronomy
1575 Linden Dr.
University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706

Subscribe to site changes

Delivered by FeedBurner

Wisconsin Sustainable Planting and Harvest Guidelines for Non-forest Biomass? on Public and Private Lands (2011)


These Guidelines are an effort to encourage decision-making and land use practices that benefit farmers financially while protecting the state’s natural resources.

Perennial Herbaceous Biomass Production and Harvest in the Prairie Pothole Region of the Northern Great Plains: Best Management Guidelines to Achieve Sustainability of Wildlife Resources (2013)


These Guidelines are provided by the National Wildlife Federation. These Best Management Guidelines were developed through a process involving an advisory group of natural resource professionals with expertise in agronomy, production aspects of energy crops, wildlife ecology and management, and native ecosystems. Although the guidelines are targeted for the Northern Great Plains, many of the general principles apply to Wisconsin.

Crop Fact Sheets

Get the information you need for informed decisions:
- switchgrass.pdf
- Miscanthus.pdf