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Sustainable agriculture and the production of biomass for energy use


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Muller, Adrian (2008) Sustainable agriculture and the production of biomass for energy use. Climatic Change. [In Press]

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Online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10584-008-9501-2


Modern bioenergy is seen as a promising option to curb greenhouse gas emissions. There is, however, a potential
competition for land and water between bioenergy and food crops. Another question is whether biomass for energy use can be produced in a sustainable manner given the current conventional agricultural production practices. Other than the land and water competition, this question is often neglected in scenarios to meet a significant part of global energy demand with bioenergy. In the following, I address this question.
There are sustainable alternatives, for example organic agriculture, to avoid the negative environmental effects of conventional agriculture. Yet, meeting a significant part of global energy demand with biomass grown sustainably may not be possible, as burning significant quantities of organic matter - inherent in bioenergy use - is likely to be incompatible with the principles of such alternatives, which often rely on biomass input for nutrient balance. There may therefore be a trade-off between policies and practices to increase bioenergy and those to increase sustainability in agriculture via practices such as organic farming.
This is not a general critique of bioenergy but it points to additional potential dangers of modern bioenergy as a strategy to meet significant parts of world energy demand.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:bioenergy, biofuels, sustainable energy, sustainable agriculture, organic agriculture, land competition, water scarcity
Subjects: Food systems > Policy environments and social economy
"Organics" in general
Research affiliation: Switzerland > Other organizations
Deposited By: Muller, Adrian
ID Code:14731
Deposited On:15 Nov 2008
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:38
Document Language:English
Status:In Press
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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