important reason why conventional agriculture is environmentally
unsustainable is that it is a net user of large amounts of fossil
fuels either via direct energy costs for machinery use or via
derived agrochemical products. As such it is far from being an
proposal attempts to develop a mainstream and productive arable
agricultural system that has a minimum goal of energy neutrality.
Thus, it will aim to show how it may be possible to integrate,
spatially, renewable energy production from biomass crops with
low input food crops. It attempts to develop, conceptually, novel
combined food and energy (CFE) integrated farming systems that
are not only fossil fuel energy-neutral but which also use the
biomass crops as ecological reservoirs to enhance biological control
within adjacently grown food crops.
CFE system builds upon principles of integrated crop production
taking them further in the direction of energy neutrality in agriculture,
reduction of inputs and improved profitability for producers.
CFE system produces both food and renewable energy, crucially
together. Via modelling and experimentation, integrated CFE systems
will be assessed for their ecological, financial and environmental
economic values, and their balance of renewable and non-renewable
systems with a range of food crops, plus woody biomass for heat
and electricity production, will be compared.
of CFE systems should improve landscape and land use efficiency.
proposal also aims to improve the physical and biological diversity
of farms their production efficiency and profitability, and lead
to waste minimisation with reduced environmental costs thereby
contributing to the ecological reform of the CAP.
this project we will examine and model:
how modified land use and management techniques enhance landscape
value, biodiversity and biological control by exploitation of
natural regulatory components of the ecosystem.
the physical and biological properties, nutrient and energy
balances, and economic viability of such systems.
the complete production and processing cycle of energy crops
for heat and power production.
the costs and benefits of examples of CFE systems, with and
without subsidy support, and in a way that includes external
as well as internal cost/benefits.
project should also provide integrated packages of land use and
crop management for alternative production systems. Factors affecting
the likely farmer adoptiion of CFE systems will be appraised.
With this proposal we highlight the CFE system as a new and integrated
farming system which contributes tangibly to increased biodiversity
in arable food production.
integrate horizontally and vertically the distribution of major
tasks and sub-tasks between partners and the communication of
our results to the wider community.
show no overall adverse effects of SRC biomass crops on food crop
yield or quality as a function of distance. No major disadvantageous
food crop/ biomass crop interactions were evident.
mapping showed no pattern of yield change beyond 5m proximity,
thus, biomass crops are unlikely to have a negative impact on
overall food crop production at the field level.
adverse effects on the soil environment have been detected. Differences
in microclimatic parameters were unlikely to impact on adjacent
earthworm numbers and species richness was found within the SRC
stands, which also support a more diverse assemblage of natural
predators. The Carabidae, Linyphiidae and Araneae
were the most abundant, especially at crop interfaces, but reductions
in pest populations associated with high predator activity/density
was not evident.
Belgium ECOP model accounts for the whole chain of wood production
with SRC and electricity conversion at farm level. Profitability
was strongly influenced by the reference interest rate, subsidy
level, SRC yield, generator power and the price paid for the electricity.
a financially viable alternative to non-cropped set-aside, SRC
must yield > 12odt ha-1 yr-1 and chip
prices must be > 60ECU odt-1. Profitability of SRC
per se is strongly affected by yield. Large investment
costs seriously affect cash flow and hence the Net Present Value,
thus there is a need for subsidy. SRC on set-aside gives a better
return than non-cropped set-aside, provided chip prices are >
60ECU ODT-1 .
and carbon budgets calculated for typical farms, and whole-system
energy analysis show that crop maintenance, harvest and regional
transport are most costly, varying with the level of intensification.
For yields of 12 t.d.m.ha-1.year-1 at 18
GJ.t-1, the energy content is 216 GJ.ha-1.year-1.
The processed wood is gasified to reach 66 GJ.ha-1.year-1.
Auxiliary consumption led to a global efficiency of 25% or net
production of 63.4 GJ.ha-1.year-1. The SRC-electricity
chain has energy balance for wood of 206 GJ.ha-1.year-1
(4.9 ton oil equivalent - toe) and net electricity production
of 17.9 GJ.ha-1.year-1 (=5,000 kWh.ha-1.year-1).
The energy ratio for wood production equals 21.8 and 1.4 for electricity,
compared to energy balance for electricity production using only
fossil fuels (diesel) of -228 GJ.year-1 and an energy
ratio of 0.28 (< 1; no renewable output). Energy balance of
wood and electricity v yield shows that energy balance
evolves linearly with yield, ranging from 100-300 GJ.ha-1.year-1
(energy ratio range 14 - 26). For electricity production, energy
balance ranges from 6-30 GJ.ha-1.year-1,
and energy ratio from 1.2 -1.45. Even with very low yield the
energy ratio remains > 1.
were high-energy inputs with fertilisers, and large variations
between food crops (14.03GJ yr--1 - 6.51GJ yr--1).
Annual energy inputs to SRC were low (5.23GJ yr-1)
and affected by machinery factors. The Energy Return Ratios range
from 23 (high yield, all energy used) to 4 (low yield, electricity
an energy neutral system, SRC area requirements range from 7.3%
(high yield, all energy used) to 33.6% (low yield, electricity
Ashton Research Station
+44 1275 39 21 81
+44 1275 39 40 07
- Jean-Francois LEDENT
Université Catholique de Louvain
Place Croix du Sud 2 - Bte 11
Tel.: +32 10 47 34 58
Fax: +32 10 47 34 55
- John Roy PORTER
Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University
Tel.: +45 35 28 33 77
Fax: +45 35 28 21 75
- Adel EL TITI
State Institute for Plant Protection
Tel.: +49 711 664 24 78
Fax: +49 711 664 24 98