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The University of Tennessee | Institute of Agriculture

Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

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Efficient transportation and handling systems are critical to the economic health of the agricultural sector in Tennessee and the rural communities which depend on this sector. In addition, the emerging biofuel industry also relies on an efficient logistics system to acquire the bulky biomass feedstocks.

The Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics is actively engaged with a number of agricultural and biofuel logistics issues. Economic considerations involving logistics are considered in several of the undergraduate and graduate classes in the Department.


  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Extension

While no courses in the Department are devoted solely to logistics, the components of agricultural logistics enter the teaching program in a variety of ways. Many examples involving logistics/transportation are used in various courses in the teaching program, such as agricultural marketing (Ag Econ 550) and international trade (Ag Econ 420). The economic and business principles developed in agricultural economics courses can be combined with course work available in other departments to provide an in-depth understanding of agricultural transportation and logistics.

The current research primarily focuses on the logistics issues of lignocellulosic biomass (LCB) feedstock, e.g. switchgrass, for cellulosic biofuel sector. One of the significant challenges to make the cellulosic biofuel industry economically feasible is the substantial technical barriers related to the harvest, storage, and transportation of LCB feedstock. Therefore, research faculty in the Department are currently examining the costs of various logistics systems to deliver consistent quantity and quality of feedstock from the field to biorefineries using a wide range of analyses, including enterprise budgeting, GIS modeling and mathematical programming. In addition, current research explores sustainable feedstock logistic systems by evaluating the impact of bulky LCB feedstock deliveries on transportation emissions and traffic safety.

In addition to biomass feedstock logistics, research faculty in the department also explore the hindrances of marketing field crops caused by transportation policies and infrastructure system.



  • Yu, T., J.A. Larson, Y. Gao, and B.C. English. “Analyzing the Economics Values of Alternative Preprocessing Facilities in the Biomass Feedstocks - Biorefinery Supply Chain,” presentation at AAEA and NAREA Joint Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA. July 24-26, 2011.
  • Yu, T., J.A. Larson, B.C. English, B. Wilson and Y. Gao. “Evaluating the Economics of Incorporating Preprocessing Facilities in the Biomass Supply Chain for Biofineries,” presentation at TRF 52th Annual Meeting, Long Beach, CA, March 10-12.
  • Yu, T., J.A. Larson, B.C. English, B. Wilson and Y. Gao. “Evaluating the Value of Alternative Storage and Preprocessing Methods in the Feedstock Supply Chain for Biomass Ethanol,” presentation at 2011 Energy, Utilities, and Environment Conference, Phoenix, AZ. January 31-February 2, 2011.


Research faculty collaborate with the Genera Energy LLC to explore the potentials of utilizing an industrial baler, Bale Tech 3, to preprocess switchgrass in the feedstock logistics system. A research of examining the dry matter losses of those bales from Bale Tech 3 during storage is also currently conducted. This experiment will assess the quality of this type of bale during storage and the potential impact on the yield of ethanol per dry ton in biorefinery.