Consequences of the cultivation of energy crops for the global nitrogen cycle

A.F. Bouwman, J.J.M. Van Grinsven, B. Eickhout

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In this paper, we assess the global consequences of implementing first- and second-generation bioenergy in the coming five decades, focusing on the nitrogen cycle. We use a climate mitigation scenario from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Environmental Outlook, in which a carbon tax is introduced to stimulate production of biofuels from energy crops. In this scenario, the area of energy crops will increase from 8 Mha in the year 2000 to 270 Mha (14% of total cropland) and producing 5.6 Pg dry matter per year (12% of energy use) in 2050. This production requires an additional annual 19 Tg of N fertilizer in 2050 (15% of total), and this causes a global emission of 0.7 Tg of N2O-N (8% of agricultural emissions), 0.2 Tg NO-N (6%), and 2.2 Tg of NH3-N (5%). In addition, we project that 2.6 Tg of NO3--N will leach from fields under energy crops. The emissions of N2O may be an important term in the greenhouse gas balance of biofuels produced from energy crops. © 2010 by the Ecological Society of America.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-109
Number of pages9
JournalEcological Applications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • Ammonia
  • Bioenergy
  • Energy crop
  • Fertilizer
  • Nitric oxide
  • Nitrogen
  • Nitrous oxide
  • biofuel
  • fertilizer
  • nitrogen
  • nitrous oxide
  • chemistry
  • crop
  • environment
  • metabolism
  • nitrogen fixation
  • review
  • time


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