Integrated cropping systems for food and advanced biofuels

Currently, agricultural crop residues such as cereal straw make up one of the main feedstocks for advanced biofuel plants. Although crop residues are abundant in Europe, local fluctuations in yield, availability and price can be a challenge for advanced biofuel plants which need large volumes of biomass. By adopting innovative farming systems, that integrate food and energy crops, it is possible to increase and to diversify the availability of feedstock for advanced biofuel plants without competing with food crops. By growing dedicated annual lignocellulosic crops alongside conventional food crops, the competition between food and energy crops can be minimised whilst land use and land cover can be increased.

An example of this is Sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea), a legume that has its origins in India, and is widely grown throughout the tropics and subtropics as a source of fodder, fibre and green manure. Sunn hemp fibre is currently being studied, by the BECOOL project, as a source of lignocellulosic biomass for advanced biofuels.

In this video prof. Andrea Monti, University of Bologna, coordinator of BECOOL, describes the successful trials conducted in the summer of 2017 with sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea), at the experimental farm of the University. By adopting innovative cropping systems, lignocellulosic crops could provide biomass for advanced biofuels without competing with traditional food crops, while bringing benefits to the soil and to the environment at the same time.

BECOOL is a research and innovation project to foster the cooperation between EU and Brazil in the development of advanced biofuels, from sustainable agricultural value chains, based on lignocellulosic biomass. The project is funded by the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Commission. The activities of BECOOL are aligned with those of BioVALUE, a twin project in Brazil, funded by five State Foundations and five Industrial Companies.

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imagesThis project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement No. 744821.

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