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Survey of Biomass Resource Assessments and Assessment ... - NREL

Survey of Biomass Resource Assessments and Assessment ... - NREL

Minnesota, Ohio State

Minnesota, Ohio State University, Washington State, and others. In addition, a few private companies, such as Antares Group and McNeil Technologies, have been historically involved in biomass assessments. USDA is the main source of agricultural and forestry statistics and analytical products. An abundance of information is available through several agencies, particularly the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and Forest Service (FS). NASS uses remote sensing for crop-condition monitoring, particularly in assessing the effects of severe weather on crop production. It uses a biweekly composite of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) from the advanced very high resolution radiometer (AVHRR) on polar orbiting weather satellites operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The EROS Data Center of the U.S. Geological Survey archives the AVHRR data and creates a biweekly composite of the NDVI. NASS procures the biweekly composites, compares the images over time, and links them to the Weekly Crop and Weather Report issued weekly by NASS and the Joint Agricultural Weather Facility (JAWF) of USDA and NOAA. AVHRR NDVI data have one square kilometer resolution (about 250 acres). This resolution can provide substantial detail when viewing a large area such as a state, region, or country, but it can’t routinely provide cropspecific information because of varying crops in the same region, field-size limitations, and alternating crop and fallow field patterns. Occasionally, remote sensing is used by NASS for estimating crop yield. However, in most cases, NASS uses two survey techniques for crop yield forecasting and estimation: the frame-based sample surveys of farm operators and field observation. Forecasts for each crop season begin with a winter wheat and rye seeding report in early January followed by a March report that gives a first look at what farmers intend to plant. This is followed in late June by a report of the acreage actually planted. Monthly yield and production forecasts begin in May for winter wheat, in July for spring wheat and other small grains, in August for other spring-planted crops, and conclude with estimates of actual production at the end of the harvesting season. NASS also conducts quarterly surveys of grain and soybeans stored on and off farms. According to NASS, AVHRR-based crop yield estimates are not nearly as precise as NASS's existing survey system for crop yield data. However, in areas with no survey or ground data systems, AVHRR-based data can provide limited year-toyear interpretations of changes in yield levels. More on the survey techniques used by NASS is available at http://www.nass.usda.gov/Data_and_Statistics/Foundation_of_Estimates/index.asp. 123

The USDA Forest Service (FS) also uses remote sensing in monitoring and evaluating forest resources. It uses aerial survey, also known as aerial sketch mapping, a remote sensing technique of observing forest change events from an aircraft and documenting them manually onto a map. Aerial surveys are used as the first step of a multitiered process, together with other remote sensing and ground-sampling techniques to gather forest resource data. As with all remotely sensed data, some amount of ground-truthing is required before the data can be considered reliable. The Forest Service considers all information a draft until the ground-truthing is complete. The results of this survey are entered into GIS for further analysis. USDA’s NASS and FS agencies provide time-series statistical and spatial data at different geographic level (economy-wide, state, county, 1km, and 250m), as well as many analytical tools. The USDA FS developed forest inventory reporting tools, including tools for querying the National Woodland Owner Survey database and the Timber Products Output database. Another tool, the Forest Inventory Data Online (FIDO) allows users to create reports and maps using information such as tree volume, growth, and tree removals by state. More information on the tools developed by these agencies is available at http://www.fia.fs.fed.us/tools-data/default.asp The ORNL specializes in economic analysis of biomass resources, and has developed many models to support it. The Policy Analysis System (POLYSYS) is an economy-wide simulation model of the U.S. agriculture sector, which can incorporate agricultural supply and demand and related modules to estimate agricultural production response, resource use, price, income, and environmental impacts of projected changes from an agricultural baseline. The framework recursively incorporates linear programming, econometric, and process models to estimate an impact path resulting from changes imposed on a baseline scenario and its underlying assumptions. POLYSYS estimates crop production and supply at a disaggregated regional level, whereby the 48 contiguous states are subdivided into 305 geographic regions with relatively homogeneous production characteristics. POLYSYS is capable of estimating a wide range of policy alternatives and economic and environmental conditions and simulations may be tailored to a variety of specific analytical needs. Oak Ridge Integrated Bioenergy Analysis System (ORIBAS) is a GIS-based modeling system for predicting delivered feedstock costs across a state. It provides county-level estimates of suitable acres, yields, and farm-gate prices of energy crops (switchgrass, hybrid poplar, willow) 124

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