Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 428009
Title The Impact of First-Generation Biofuels on the Depletion of the Global Phosphorus Reserve
Author(s) Hein, L.G.; Leemans, R.
Source Ambio 41 (2012)4. - ISSN 0044-7447 - p. 341 - 349.
DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-012-0253-x
Department(s) Environmental Systems Analysis Group
WIMEK
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2012
Keyword(s) cumulative carbon emissions - dangerous climate-change - soil degradation - energy - environment - trends - cycle
Abstract The large majority of biofuels to date is “first-generation” biofuel made from agricultural commodities. All first-generation biofuel production systems require phosphorus (P) fertilization. P is an essential plant nutrient, yet global reserves are finite. We argue that committing scarce P to biofuel production involves a trade-off between climate change mitigation and future food production. We examine biofuel production from seven types of feedstock, and find that biofuels at present consume around 2% of the global inorganic P fertilizer production. For all examined biofuels, with the possible exception of sugarcane, the contribution to P depletion exceeds the contribution to mitigating climate change. The relative benefits of biofuels can be increased through enhanced recycling of P, but high increases in P efficiency are required to balance climate change mitigation and P depletion impacts. We conclude that, with the current production systems, the production of first-generation biofuels compromises food production in the future.
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