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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: From the petroeconomy to the bioeconomy: Integrating bioenergy production with agricultural demands
Year: 2009
Author(s): Mathews, J. A.
Source Title: Biofuels Bioproducts & Biorefining
Source Type: Journal
pages: 613-632
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: Production of biomass for bioenergy generation, and in particular production of biologically derived liquid fuels, is attracting great interest as an alternative to the fossil fuel economy. Biofuels represent as yet only 1% of world agricultural output, but this small extension has triggered widespread fears, many now shown to be groundless, such as the fear that it was biofuels that drove up food prices in 2008. This perspective reviews the literature on the extent to which biofuel production can be integrated into agricultural production, taking a global view of the potential for land, water and other resources to be extended beyond current food, feed and fiber applications. As opposed to the focus on negative impacts, there are beneficial practices in biofuels that could be expected to propagate to agriculture more generally and have a positive impact on yields and practices. These include (1) promoting a shift from wasteful annual crops to perennials, particularly low-input high-diversity (LIHD) crops; (2) sequestering carbon in soil both organically and as biochar; (3) improving conservative water management practices; and (4) recycling resources. The possibilities of encouraging biofuel production (and biomass for bioenergy generally) in the tropical South, for consumption in the temperate North, based on certification of such sustainable practices in the South, could be expanded if global trade in biofuels were liberalized.