Date of Graduation

Spring 5-17-2018

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)


College of Arts and Sciences


Environmental Management

First Advisor

Gretchen Coffman, Ph.D.


Vineyard pruning residues and removed vines create an annual biomass waste issue for growers in Napa Valley. Traditionally this agricultural biomass waste is eliminated by open burning, but with increasing public health and climate change concerns as well as public outcry over large smoke plumes in picturesque Napa Valley, it is necessary to evaluate the alternatives to traditional agricultural biomass burning. The purpose of this study is to evaluate and compare these alternatives and to determine the most sustainable and practicable alternatives for use in Napa Valley. The alternatives to traditional agricultural biomass burning analyzed in this study include low-smoke agricultural burning, chipping and mulching, biochar, and bioenergy. Low-smoke agricultural burning and chipping and mulching are among the most practicable of alternatives currently while biochar and bioenergy continue to expand infrastructurally and strive to reduce costs. Each alternative exemplifies techniques that require more funding and collaborative support from local, state, and federal agencies, in order to succeed at the community level with local agricultural producers. Management recommendations include further development of funding and collaborative efforts already in place, expansion of practicable opportunities to minimize greenhouse gas (GHG) and particulate matter 2.5 µm (PM2.5) emissions from agricultural waste while still effectively managing pests and disease, and emphasizing the ecological and possible financial incentives to growers should they invest in any of the alternatives to traditional agricultural biomass burning. Furthermore, it is imperative to consider and improve safety guidelines for farmworkers performing burns or engaging in an alternative to traditional agricultural biomass burning. At the foundation, accessible safety training as well as regulatory and informational materials must be provided in languages other than English to ensure the safety of farmworkers. Sustainable implementation of any alternative to traditional agricultural biomass burning requires full collaboration across every level while burn policy recommendations for Napa Valley require additional awareness and understanding of agricultural operations in an urbanized setting.