397891 - Hydrologic impacts of developing Oil Palm for bioenergy in Tabasco, Mexico
Tuesday, June 5
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Greenway IJ
David Watkins, Houghton – Michigan Tech; Alex Mayer, Houghton – Michigan Technological University
There is growing interest in bioenergy-related projects in the Americas as a result of increasing demand for biomass derived fuels. With an increase in biofuel production, there may be significant impacts on hydrological processes, but limited work has been done to quantify these changes and predict other environmental consequences. Accordingly, the main goal of this research is to study how developing bioenergy projects may affect hydrological systems at a watershed scale, with a case study of biofuel feedstock production with oil palm cultivation in a humid watershed in southern Tabasco, Mexico. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was calibrated, validated and applied to predict land use change impacts for several biofuel development scenarios. These scenarios include location of the biofuel feedstock, planting density, and rotation time. These variables are found to impact the magnitude and timing of runoff, baseflow, and sediment discharge. Preliminary results indicate that intensive oil palm development will increase evapotranspiration and decrease water and sediment yield. However, hydrologic impacts are expected to be sensitive to management practices such as fertilization and planting density. The model will be applied to evaluate tradeoffs in biomass production and hydrologic impacts resulting from different management practices.
Keywords: Biofuel; Soil and Water Assessment Tool; Oil Palm; Baseflow; Evapotranspiration