Sustainability

Many different definitions of "sustainability" have evolved over the past decades (Pretty 2007). Despite this ambiguity, Klauer (1999) for instance stated that "common ground of all definitions of sustainability is the preservation of a system

Table 5.1 Potential energy crops suitable for present and future European climate conditions, and forms of use as well as simple climate and elevation rules according to Bassam (1998), IIASA (2002), BioBase (2004), IENICA (2004) and Tuck et al. (2006)_

Rainfall

Common Elevation(m) Temperature(°C) (mm year-1)

name Botanical name Use Min Max Months Min Max Min Max

Table 5.1 Potential energy crops suitable for present and future European climate conditions, and forms of use as well as simple climate and elevation rules according to Bassam (1998), IIASA (2002), BioBase (2004), IENICA (2004) and Tuck et al. (2006)_

Oilseed rape

Brassica napus

O

0

800

04-07

6

40

400

1,S00

Linseed

Linum

O

0

900

03-09

4

32

2S0

1,300

usitatissimum

Field mustard

Sinapis alba

O

0

9S0

04-08

7

27

600

1,200

Hemp

Canabis sativa

O/L

0

9S0

04-09

S

28

600

1,S00

Sunflower

Helianthus annuus

O

0

9S0

04-09

1S

39

3S0

1,S00

Safflower

Carthamus

O

0

900

04-09

20

4S

400

1,300

tinctorius

Castor

Ricinus communis

O

100

1,800

04-08

17

38

S00

2,000

Olive

Olea europaea

O

0

2,000

03-11

-7

42

200

1,300

Groundnut

Arachis hypogaea

O

0

1,S00

04-08

19

4S

4S0

2,000

Barley

Hordeum vulgare

S/L

0

900

0S-09

8

3S

2S0

2,000

Wheat

Triticum aestivum

S/L

0

9S0

0S-09

11

32

400

1,600

Oats

Avena sativa

S/L

0

1,000

04-08

6

2S

400

1,200

Rye

Secale cereale

S/L

0

9S0

0S-09

11

32

400

1,600

Potato

Solanum

S

0

1,000

04-09

S

2S

S00

1,S00

tuberosum

Sugar beet

Beta vulgaris

S

0

1,000

04-09

S

2S

S00

1,S00

Jerus.

Helianthus

S

100

7S0

0S-09

8

2S

S00

1,600

artichoke

tuberosus

Sugarcane

Saccharum

S

0

1,200

03-09

16

41

1,000

-

officinarum

Cardoon

Cynara

L

0

S00

11-08

-3

37

400

900

cardunulus

Sorghum

Sorghum bicolor

L/S

0

1,100

04-08

16

40

300

700

Kenaf

Hibiscus

L

0

600

02-11

-2

33

S00

1,100

cannabinus

Prickly pear

Opuntia

L

0

1,S00

12-02

6

-

3S0

1,S00

fiscus-indica

Maize (whole)

Zea mays

L/S

0

9S0

0S-09

9

40

4S0

1,S00

Reed canary

Phalaris

L

0

1,100

04-10

1

38

600

2,000

arundinacea

Miscanthus

Miscanthus spp.

L

0

9S0

04-09

11

40

600

1,S00

SRC

Salix spp.

L

0

1,100

04-10

1

38

600

2,000

Populus spp.

0

1,100

0S-09

3

38

600

2,000

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus

L/O

0

1,S00

10-03

-6

36

400

2,S00

ssp.

globulus

E. camaldulensis

0

1,S00

04

7

36

400

2,S00

E. grandis, E.

0

1,S00

0S-09

10

36

400

2,S00

terticonis

O: Oil; S: Sugar/Starch; L: Lignocellulose.

O: Oil; S: Sugar/Starch; L: Lignocellulose.

or certain characteristics of a system, e.g. the productive capacity of the social system or the life-supporting ecological system. Therefore, something should always be preserved for the well-being of future generations" [translated by the authors]. In a narrower sense "sustainability" refers mainly to the environment in the agricultural context. According to Tilmann et al. (2002), we define sustainable agriculture as practices that meet current and future societal needs for food, fibre, energy, ecosystem services, and healthy lives. This concept may be reached by maximizing the net benefit to society when all costs and benefits of the practices are considered. If society is to maximize the net benefits of agriculture, there must be a fuller accounting of both the costs and the benefits of alternative agricultural practices, and such an accounting must become the basis of policy, ethics and action. In addition, the development of sustainable agriculture must accompany advances in the sustainability of energy use, manufacturing, transportation and other economic sectors that also have significant environmental impacts. In this context, the assessment of the sustainability of the cultivation of energy crops includes the input and recycling of nutrients, the application of pesticides, the water-use efficiency (WUE), the utilisation of fossil fuels and the balance of soil carbon.

Developed environmental accounting and evaluation methods based on relevant parameters indicating potential impacts on the environment make it possible to describe and monitor processes, states and tendencies of the agricultural production systems at various levels (Hulsbergen 2003; Piorr 2003; Delbaere and Serradilla 2004; Zinck et al. 2004; Bergstrom et al. 2005; Meyer-Aurich 2005; Payraudeau and van der Werf 2005; Bockstaller et al. 2007).

On an international level, the norm DIN EN ISO 14040-14043 for life-cycle-assessment was established as a methodological guide and revised in 2006 (ISO/EN/DIN 14040 2006 and ISO/EN/DIN 14044 2006-2010). Policy decision makers need these tools to be able to provide appropriate agro-environmental policy measures (Pacini et al. 2000). However, assessing environmental impacts is not always straightforward because of widely varying parameters and complex system interactions. Table 5.2 presents an overview of relevant parameters indicating potential impacts on the environment caused by energy crop cultivation. Owing to the variety and complexity of environmental issues, the criteria should be applied to the major sustainability problems and opportunities currently encountered in the production of biomass or those anticipated for the future (Cramer et al. 2006; Lal 2008).

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