Climate impact of land management and competition between food and energy crops

Nuala Fitton co-convened a session at EGU 2016 entitled,  "Climate impact of land management and competition between food and energy crops."  This session was well received and included a number of high quality oral and poster contributions.  Further information is available about the talks and posters.

Session Summary

Land management activities (for example, fertilisation, irrigation, drainage, harvest practices, grazing) affect vegetation characteristics that influence biosphere-atmosphere interactions such as e.g. albedo, atmospheric coupling, energy partitioning, water loss, and carbon uptake. Ecosystems that are amenable to land management are not restricted to agricultural crops or grasslands, but they include also forests, short rotation coppice, wetlands and energy crops, which are receiving widespread attention for their potential role in both supplying energy and mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The estimated contribution of bioenergy to the EU 2020 renewable energy targets require up to 17–21 million hectares of agricultural land in Europe. However, food production will also become more important with a growing population and changing dietary demands, resulting in trade-offs between food security and energy security. This competition between energy and food crops for arable land will likely influence food prices and availability, GHG emissions, carbon storage, soil fertility and environmental pollution (i.e. by NH3 and NO3-). Moreover, it is unclear if the cultivation of energy crops can meet the challenging GHG mitigation requirements specified in the EU Renewables Directive.

This session invites contributions that provide insights on how land management affects abiotic and biotic biosphere-atmosphere interactions at local, regional or global scale. The food-energy-climate nexus, with special focus on the competing demands for land and the influence of management practices on GHG emissions and soil carbon storage, will also be explored. Modelling as well as comparative experimental studies (e.g. inventories, flux measurements, meteorological measurements, remote sensing) are welcomed.