Likely impacts of biofuel expansion on midwest land and water resources

Timothy Searchinger, Ralph Heimlich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


US ethanol production should exceed 12 billion gallons by 2010, and EISA 2007 mandates 36 billion gallons by 2022, diverting one-third of corn to ethanol and 13% of soybean production to biodiesel. Increased demand will ricochet through other agricultural sectors and alter production patterns and land use in the Corn Belt. This paper discusses effects of biofuel expansion on land and water resources. While US ethanol production will have large effects on international land use, there will likely be conversion of grassland to row crops, increased use of nitrogen fertiliser and pesticides, and increases in soil erosion in the Midwest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-149
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Biotechnology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


  • Biofuel expansion
  • Environmental impacts
  • Land-use change
  • Nitrogen run-off
  • Pesticide use
  • Soil erosion
  • Wetlands
  • Wildlife habitat


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