the geographic information system (GIS) to delineate agroecozones and agroecoregions that were suitable for various crops. Their procedure relied completely on digital databases and was considered more objective than methods that relied at least in part on expert opinion. The resolution of their procedure, however, was 1 km, and that leaves a spatial-resolution gap between their procedure and the approach used by Kitchen et al. (2005) for an individual field. Yan et al. (2007) described a GIS database-driven method similar to that of Williams et al. (2008). Their study, however, was conducted on a single-field scale to delineate zones requiring different management practices for a single crop.
To implement a landscape vision of bioenergy feedstock production, information should be gathered, on scales of at least 1 mile, of current land tenure and community access, drainage patterns, soil-quality status, crop-rotation and crop-distribution patterns, economic conditions, conservation practices, wildlife and human restrictions and concerns, and other pertinent factors. A potential biofuel-production scheme that increases ecosystem services might include establishing woody species (for example, Populus) near streams as buffers and long-term biomass sources. Next, Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus), reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea), eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides), or diverse mixtures of these and similar species, could be used at slightly higher landscape positions to benefit from and reduce leaching of nitrate nitrogen and to sequester carbon as soil organic matter. Slightly higher on the landscape, diverse mixtures of warm-season grasses and cool-season legumes could produce biomass and store organic carbon in soils. In fall, the perennials would be a source of biomass and thus address at least three of the landscape problems—biomass production, carbon sequestration, and water quality. Moving up the landscape, a diversified rotation of annual and perennial crops would be used to meet food, feed, and fiber needs. Erosion could be partially mitigated by using cover crops or living mulches. Intensive row-crop production areas could be established by using best management practices with the awareness that if fertilizer recovery was less than desired, there would be a substantial buffer (lignocellulosic) production area lower on the landscape to capture residual nutrients and sediment. A step-by-step outline of that process is presented below:
Identify landscape characteristics by using georeferenced technologies and methods.
Identify the landscape’s most important production and conservation issues.