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Economic and ecological impacts of bioenergy crop production—a modeling approach applied in Southwestern Germany

1 Institute of Landscape Planning and Ecology, University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany
2 Institute of Farm Management, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany
3 Terra Fusca Engineers Partnership, Stuttgart, Germany
4 Biosphere Reservate Swabian Alb, Münsingen, Germany

This paper considers scenarios of cultivating energy crops in the German Federal State of Baden-Württemberg to identify potentials and limitations of a sustainable bioenergy production. Trade-offs are analyzed among income and production structure in agriculture, bioenergy crop production, greenhouse gas emissions, and the interests of soil, water and species habitat protection. An integrated modelling approach (IMA) was implemented coupling ecological and economic models in a model chain. IMA combines the Economic Farm Emission Model (EFEM; key input: parameter sets on farm production activities), the Environmental Policy Integrated Climate model (EPIC; key input: parameter sets on environmental cropping effects) and GIS geo-processing models. EFEM is a supply model that maximizes total gross margins on farm level with simultaneous calculation of greenhouse gas emission from agriculture production. Calculations by EPIC result in estimates for soil erosion by water, nitrate leaching, Soil Organic Carbon and greenhouse gas emissions from soil. GIS routines provide land suitability analyses, scenario settings concerning nature conservation and habitat models for target species and help to enable spatial explicit results. The model chain is used to calculate scenarios representing different intensities of energy crop cultivation. To design scenarios which are detailed and in step to practice, comprehensive data research as well as fact and effect analyses were carried out. The scenarios indicate that, not in general but when considering specific farm types, energy crop share extremely increases if not restricted and leads to an increase in income. If so this leads to significant increase in soil erosion by water, nitrate leaching and greenhouse gas emissions. It has to be expected that an extension of nature conservation leads to an intensification of the remaining grassland and of the arable land, which were not part of nature conservation measures, and thus do not lead to a significant decrease in income. It is concluded that an environment friendly extension of energy crops is possible when using scenario technique which enables to formulate more precise agri-environmental policies.
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Keywords energy crops; economic-ecological modelling; natural resources; agricultural biodiversity; soil conservation; mitigation costs

Citation: Hans-Georg Schwarz-v. Raumer, Elisabeth Angenendt, Norbert Billen, Rüdiger Jooß. Economic and ecological impacts of bioenergy crop production—a modeling approach applied in Southwestern Germany. AIMS Agriculture and Food, 2017, 2(1): 75-100. doi: 10.3934/agrfood.2017.1.75


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