Strip-mined land (SML) disturbed by coal mining is a non-crop land resource that can be utilized to cultivate high-yielding energy crops such as miscanthus for bioenergy applications. However, the biomass yield potential, annual availability, and environmental impacts of growing energy crops in SML are less understood. In this study, we estimated the yield potential of miscanthus (Miscanthus sinensis
) in SML and its environmental impacts on local streams using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). After calibration and validation of the SWAT model, the results demonstrated that miscanthus yield potentials were 2.6 (0.8−5.53), 10.0 (1.3−16.0), and 16.0 (1.34−26.0) Mg ha−1
with fertilizer application rates of 0, 100, and 200 kg-N ha−1
, respectively. Furthermore, cultivation of miscanthus in SML has the potential to reduce sediment (~20%) and nitrate (2.5−10.0%) loads reaching water streams, with a marginal increase in phosphorus load. The available SML in the United States could produce about 10 to 16 dry Tg of biomass per year without negatively impacting the water quality. In conclusion, SML can provide a unique opportunity to produce biomass for bioenergy applications, while improving stream water quality in a highly dense mining area (the Appalachian region) in the United States.
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