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AD Crops 'Efficient, Sustainable Use of Land'

18 April 2013

UK - Ongoing projects are looking at the impact of growing more crops for bioenergy, taking into account potential alternative uses of the land - for example, whether it would be used for some form of food production or whether the land would simply be abandoned or unmanaged, and how this should be used when calculating the life cycle carbon emissions for bioenergy.

Ultimately this will be used to inform policy, including financial incentives.

The Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) and NNFCC are actively engaged with DECC to demonstrate that growing crops for anaerobic digestion (AD) is a very efficient and sustainable use of land; supporting food production through improved crop rotations, as well as helping to recycle nutrients and organic matter, enhancing soil quality and reducing the need for artificial fertilisers and pesticides.

There is also a wide range of academic work taking place in these areas providing valuable evidence for policy development.

While much of the concern around bioenergy is the potential impact on food production, it is important that we bear in mind that climate change will have a far greater impact on this than using a small proportion of land for bioenergy production.

The UK Government and the Committee on Climate Change have both indicated the need for around 10 per cent of the UK’s energy to come from bioenergy in order to meet the UK’s 2050 emissions target and reduce the impact of climate change.

Biogas from the anaerobic digestion of crops is one of the most efficient forms of bioenergy and also delivers a vast range of valuable additional benefits to UK farming, the environment and biodiversity.

AD not only provides farmers with a diversified income and renewable energy to meet on-site demands, it can also improve soil quality through breaking monocultures, growing cover crops and recycling digestate to the field. Crop rotations can support biodiversity, which can also be aided by good ecological practices.

ADBA, NFU, NNFCC and CLA are working together to develop specific best practice guidance on growing crops for AD - to be published this summer - which will give practical advice on realising these benefits. Grown well, crops for AD can bring significant benefits to farmers and their land, as well as to the UK; reducing carbon and financial input costs, such as fertilisers and chemical pest control, and supporting biodiversity.

You can find out more about best practice for growing crops for AD at ADBA’s annual trade show and conference, UK AD & Biogas 2013 (3-4 July, NEC Birmingham) which this year offers free access to all areas, including the conference.

The UK’s only trade show dedicated exclusively to AD and biogas offers 240 exhibitors, as well as a knowledge hub consisting of a high profile conference, seminars and workshops as well as one-to-one advice in our expert clinics

TheCropSite News Desk

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