This report considers the potential availability of land and crops for biofuel expansion in Southern Africa. It is based on a regional-level review of data and is designed to highlight regional-level opportunities and constraints.

Increasing demand for sustainable energy has led to research and development on the cultivation of diverse plant species for biomass production. To support the research and development required to domesticate and cultivate crops for bioenergy, we developed the Biofuel Ecophysiological Traits and Yields database (BETYdb). BETYdb is a centralized open-access repository that facilitates organization, discovery, and exchange of information about plant traits, crop yields, and ecosystem functions.

Several modelling studies have highlighted the risk that biofuel production on agricultural land can displace existing food and animal feed production. This could indirectly lead to the conversion of forests and other natural land into new cropland to compensate for the displaced production.

Sorghum vegetative tissues are becoming increasingly important for biofuel production. The composition of sorghum stem tissues is influenced by genotype, environment and photoperiod sensitivity, and varies widely between varieties and also between different stem tissues (outer rind vs inner pith).

Original Source

Dedicated biomass crops are required for future bioenergy production. However, the effects of large-scale land use change (LUC) from traditional annual crops, such as corn-soybean rotations to the perennial grasses (PGs) switchgrass and miscanthus on soil microbial community functioning is largely unknown. Specifically, ecologically significant denitrifying communities, which regulate N2O production and consumption in soils, may respond differently to LUC due to differences in carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) inputs between crop types and management systems.

Substantial potential exists to expand both food and fuel supply in a sustainable fashion.

Describes case studies of energy cropping in Europe in the context of advanced biofuel and bioproducts sustainability. European biofuel policy has been dominated by discussions about the indirect effects of biofuel consumption, and in particular indirect land use change and impacts on food prices and security.

Further progress in understanding and mitigating N2O emissions from soil lies within transdisciplinary research that reaches across spatial scales and takes an ambitious look into the future.

Original Source

Water use by plant communities across years of varying water availability indicates how terrestrial water balances will respond to climate change and variability as well as to land cover change. Perennial biofuel crops, likely grown mainly on marginal lands of limited water availability, provide an example of a potentially extensive future land cover conversion.

Biofuels are acquiring importance due to their potential to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The two most important biofuels – viz., bioethanol and bio-diesel, are largely considered supplementary to the transport fuels. India has extensive programs and aims to blend 20 percent of transport fuels with biofuels by 2017.

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