Perennial Grass Production Opportunities on Marginal Mediterranean Land

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

An increasing global awareness that the supply and security of petroleum-based materials is diminishing, coupled with environmental concerns related to climate change, water availability, and soil degradation, has increased demand for more renewable, diversified, and sustainable agricultural production systems. The objective of this work was to determine if a biogenic approach, focused on producing perennial grasses on marginal Mediterranean land as feedstock for bioenergy or bio-based products, could reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions without depleting soil nutrients, water supplies, or negatively impacting biological and landscape diversity. This study, funded by European Union (EU), was conducted under project optimization of perennial grasses for biomass production (OPTIMA) using environmental impact assessment (EIA) protocols to quantify local environmental impacts of producing perennial grasses, in the Mediterranean region. Different end uses were investigated and biogenic products were compared with conventional ones. The EIA assessment indicated that the biogenic system had low erodibility potential, reduced disturbance of soil properties, and minimal hydrological impacts. Less tillage and high biomass production supported biological and landscape diversity, but site-specific factors should be used to appropriately match the specific crop and location. We conclude that producing perennial grasses on marginal Mediterranean land is feasible and if appropriately managed will have relatively few environmental side effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1523-1537
Number of pages15
JournalBioenergy Research
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015

Keywords

  • Bioenergy
  • Environmental impacts
  • Marginal land
  • Mediterranean region
  • Perennial grasses
  • Sustainability

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