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Soil Carbon Sequestration or Biofuel Production: New Land-Use Opportunities for Mitigating Climate over Abandoned Soviet Farmlands

Abstract : Although the CO(2) mitigation potential of biofuels has been studied by extrapolation of small-scale studies, few estimates exist of the net regional-scale carbon balance implications of biofuel cultivations programs, either growing conventional biofuel crops or applying new advanced technologies. Here we used a spatially distributed process-driven model over the 20 Mha of recently abandoned agricultural lands of the Former Soviet Union to quantify the GHG mitigation by biofuel production from Low Input/High Diversity (LIHD) grass-legume prairies and to compare this GHG mitigation with the one of soil C sequestration as it currently occurs. LIHD has recently received a lot of attention as an emerging opportunity to produce biofuels over marginal lands leading to a good energy efficiency with minimal adverse consequences on food security and ecosystem services. We found that depending on the time horizon over which one seeks to maximize the GHG benefit the optimal time for implementing biofuel production shifts from "never" (short-term horizon) to "as soon as possible" (longer-term horizon). These results highlight the importance of reaching agreement a priori on the target time interval during which biofuels are expected to play a role within the global energy system, to avoid deploying biofuel technology over a time interval for which it has a detrimental impact on the GHG mitigation objective. The window of opportunity for growing LIHD also stresses the need to reduce uncertainties in soil C inputs, turnover, and soil organic matter stability under current and future climate and management practices.
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Soumis le : mercredi 11 juillet 2012 - 11:09:01
Dernière modification le : mercredi 14 octobre 2020 - 03:48:00

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Nicolas Vuichard, Philippe Ciais, Adam Wolf. Soil Carbon Sequestration or Biofuel Production: New Land-Use Opportunities for Mitigating Climate over Abandoned Soviet Farmlands. Environmental Science and Technology, American Chemical Society, 2009, 43 (22), pp.8678-8683. ⟨10.1021/es901652t⟩. ⟨hal-00716746⟩

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