Sustainable Agriculture and the Production of Biomass for Energy Use


ENERGY SOURCES PART A-RECOVERY UTILIZATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS, vol.33, no.10, pp.938-947, 2011 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier


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. 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 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.