In attempts to prevent the use of fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gases, plant biofuels are among the main competitors as other liquid sources of transportation. However, strategies to produce a high product of biomass for fuel do not offer all one size, according to a study led by UC Santa Barbara ecology teacher, David Tilman.
"Tinman, a faculty member at the Royal School of Science and Environmental Management, and a joint paper author published in the magazine, said" It's hard to make biofuels that have environmental benefits. " Sustainability of Nature. "When a food crop is used to make biofuels, this, in essence, takes food away from poor people around the world, and in turn offers small or no greenhouse gas reductions."
Although conventional biofuels have used food crops such as soybean, oil palm and sugarcourse, these habits have their dangers, such as intensive use of nitrogen fertilizers, and competition for fruitful cropland that had been growing food. In Tilman's 10 year experiment, researchers examined alternative ways of producing biomass, but with fewer environmental and economic side effects.
"We wanted to see if the grass grass could be better crop," he said. In contrast to relative dispersed annual crops, the root roots of the perennial grass in Mid Wales are better able to store carbon in the ground – an additional environmental benefit. Furthermore, according to the study, it could grow a variety of perennial grass on so unpleasant lands that were abandoned from agriculture "reduce competition with food and greenhouse gas emissions associated with clear direct or indirect land clearance, improve the recovery of ecosystem services and the provision of wildlife habitats. "
However, because the land is dropped from nutrients, some agricultural treatment could have value. And so the researchers, working with 36 plots and 32 native grassland species, found the best possible amount of fertilizers and irrigation which would lead to the most biomass and most varied amounts, and also leading to underground carbon storage and minimum nitrate fishing.
The result, after a decade of observation and analysis? More is not necessarily better.
"Our results show that levels of intensification have different different environmental benefits and costs," said lead author Yi Yang, who is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota.
In fact, moderate treatments with a low rate of nitrogen fertilizer and irrigation water resulted in the best biomass product and carbon storage – twice the products and untreated plots. Meanwhile, the more intense plots treated resulted in 30 per cent greenhouse gas savings, 10 times more of nitrate spread and 120% more in a variety of plants than their # 39; n being treated moderately.
Although the results suggest that the energy product of controlling the best prairie grasses is still slightly lower than the hectare than for traditional corn ethanol, the prairie grass grew up on land as infertile. corn. Furthermore, as much less nitrogen fertilizer is used than for corn and especially due to the high rate of carbon storage in soils, the bioenergy of the best peat grass gave much more savings greenhouse. All this, with the benefits of ecological recovery.
The promising results of this study lead to the idea that a more friendly, environmentally friendly approach to the production of biofuels could also benefit other regions, as we continue to explore ways of producing biomass for alternative fossil fuels.
"Our study suggests that there is a need to maximize the environmental benefits of sustainable intensification practices that are appropriate for the soils, climate and species of region plants," said Yang.
Research on this project was also carried out by Clarence Lehman and Jared L. Trost of the University of Minnesota (UMN).