2013 Minnesota Wetlands Conference
Increased Ethanol Production Impacts on
Minnesota Wetlands
Dr. David Kelley
University of St. Thomas
2013 Minnesota Wetlands Conference
Objective of Study
Explore the effect that large-scale ethanol production in
Minnesota has had on CRP land protection, particularly
with regards to CRP contracts near surface waters.
2013 Minnesota Wetlands Conference
Issues of Potential Concern
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When crop prices are high and CRP rental rates are low,
farmers can often make more money converting their land to
crop production than keeping it enrolled in CRP.
Converting CRP acres to cropland increases soil erosion and
surface runoff, degrading and filling nearby wetlands and
streams with sediment.
Corn requires more pesticide input per acre than soy and most
other food crops.
In landscapes dominated by corn, estimates suggest that
around 17.8 to 35.7 lbs of the nitrogen applied per acre is
transported to downstream aquatic ecosystems each year.
The amount of phosphorous lost from corn fields can range
from 1.8 to 13.4 lbs per acre in a year.
2013 Minnesota Wetlands Conference
Background
USA:
 96.4 mil. acres in 2012, largest corn crop in 75 years
 Corn prices can exceed $8.00/bu, Soybeans $12.00/bu
 Land under CRP contract for the 2008 crop year: 34.66
million acres, down 2.11 million acres from 36.77 million
acres in 2007.
 States with the largest CRP declines: North Dakota and
South Dakota, with losses of 400,000 and 248,000 acres,
respectively.
Source: USDA, 2008
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The Conservation Reserve
Program (CRP)
The CRP works to protect environmentallysensitive farmland voluntarily submitted into
the program. To determine which lands are
eligible, the CRP uses an Environmental
Benefits Index (EBI), which scores a parcel
of land on various criteria for suitability for
protection (proximity to water, rare or
endangered species, slope, etc.).
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2013 Minnesota Wetlands Conference
CORN
2013 Minnesota Wetlands Conference
Source: Agricultural Marketing Services Division, MN Department of Agriculture, 2008
2013 Minnesota Wetlands Conference
Source: Agricultural Marketing Services Division, MN Department of Agriculture, 2008
2013 Minnesota Wetlands Conference
2013 Minnesota Wetlands Conference
Minnesota’s Top Corn Counties, 1990 & 2007 Production
Source: Agricultural Marketing Services Division, MN Department of Agriculture, 2008
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Minnesota Corn Prices Received by Growers
Source: Agricultural Marketing Services Division, MN Department of Agriculture
(monthly, $/bushel)
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Minnesota Corn Utilization
Source: Agricultural Marketing Services Division, MN Department of Agriculture, 2008
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Minnesota Corn Processing (million bushels)
Source: Agricultural Marketing Services Division, MN Department of Agriculture, 2008
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U.S. Ethanol Production
$7.20 - $8.60 /bu corn Sept. 2012
Source: Renewable Fuels Association, 2013
2013 Minnesota Wetlands Conference
Minnesota:
 1997: 10% ethanol blend; 2005: 2% biodiesel blend
 2013: 20% ethanol blend
Source: MDA, 2013
Million gallons
2013 Minnesota Wetlands Conference
Source: Agricultural Marketing Services Division, MN Department of Agriculture, 2013
2013 Minnesota Wetlands Conference
Minnesota Ethanol Economic Impact
Year
Production (Million Gallons)
Output Impact ($ million)
Employment (# of Jobs)
1990
11
28.51
166
1991
17
42.38
247
1992
35
89.30
520
1993
38
90.96
529
1994
41
101.45
590
1995
51
115.26
671
1996
69
203.51
1,089
1997
112
275.66
1,476
1998
124
254.38
1,362
1999
190
352.47
1,759
2000
220
511.48
2,231
2001
252
802.60
3,132
2002
300
732.24
2,858
2003
359
1,074.32
4,008
2004
400
1,476.02
5,506
2005
420
1,577.00
5,883
2006
550
2,766.61
10,321
2007 (Projected)
620
3,067.80
11,444
2008 (Projected)
1,000
4,948.61
18,461
2013 Minnesota Wetlands Conference
GIS uses the power of a computer and
specialized software to stack different maps and
data layers on top of each other so that they can
be compared and analyzed.
Data layers used:
• Minnesota Conservation Reserve Program
(CRP) GIS Database; 1997 (pre-ethanol) and
2008 (post-ethanol)
• Ethanol Biorefinery Locations 2012 (Renewable
Fuels Association)
• 2010 Stream Assessments (MPCA)
• Lakes from the USGS 1:100,000 Digital Line
Graph Hydrography Layer (MDNR)
• Base imagery from ESRI (Digital Globe, FSA)
2013 Minnesota Wetlands Conference
Initial Observations:
Yellow denotes CRP
acreage lost between
1997 and 2008 (742 acres)
Red denotes CRP
acreage gained between
1997 and 2008 (537 acres)
within 5 miles of the
Central MN Ethanol Coop,
Little Falls, MN
(Morrison county)
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Closeup of CRP
acreage lost
between
1997 and 2008,
just west of the
Little Falls ethanol
plant. Note
proximity to surface
waters.
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Comparison of 1997
and 2008 CRP acres
within 0.25 mi. of
surface water body or
stream
(sub-section of
Kandiyohi county)
2013 Minnesota Wetlands Conference
Changes to MN CRP acreage within 0.25 mile of assessed streams or
lakes between 1997 and 2008.
No
change
Assessed
Streams
Lakes
107,270
73,885
CRP
lost
% of total
1997
acres
156,937
10.29
130,010
8.53
CRP
gained
229,388
132,075
2013 Minnesota Wetlands Conference
Conclusions
• CRP enrollment has increased overall between 1997 and
2008 in Minnesota
• Up to 10% of 1997 CRP acres near water lost by 2008
• Corn prices may affect future CRP enrollment decisions
2013 Minnesota Wetlands Conference
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Increased Ethanol Production: Impacts on MN Wetlands