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Energy from Grassland - a Sustainable Development?

Energy from Grassland - a Sustainable Development?
Project team:

Rösch, Christine (Project leader); Volker Stelzer; Konrad Raab

Funding:

Ministerium für Ernährung und Ländlichen Raum (MLR) Baden-Württemberg

Start date:

2003

End date:

2006

Research area:

Sustainability and environment

Project description

Background

Landscape is changing constantly. Over long periods of time this is true for natural landscapes, but especially for our modern cultivated landscapes. Cultivated landscape is mainly a product of agricultural production systems. Today, in many regions of Germany landscape is characterised by meadows and pasture. Almost 30 % of the ag-ricultural area in Germany are permanent grassland; in the region of Baden-Württemberg this percentage is about 39 %. As a result of the dramatic change of the production technology and structural adaptations in agriculture, the traditional ways of using grassland are vanishing for years already. Under the recent political frame-work conditions in agricultural policy it is obvious that, especially in areas with less favourable natural conditions, many grassland areas will no longer be used for forage production in the midterm future. This trend will have negative consequences, not only for the rural and the agricultural economies, but also for nature and environmental pro-tection, the cultural landscape, tourism, the regional economy and regional planning. Alternative methods of animal husbandry on grassland (e.g. suckling cows) have al-ready been examined in different research projects. The results indicate that these al-ternative production systems are only useful for singular solutions and that they are relevant only as subsidiary income. Alternative animal husbandry in general will there-fore not play a major role in the future of grassland production systems, although in some regions it may still be of importance. Occasionally attempts were made to re-place haying by intercultivation without however having found a practicable method for using the biomass.

Purpose of the project

Against this background a research project is financed by the MLR Baden-Württemberg to find answers to the question whether an energetic use of "green" bio-mass could contribute to a sustainable development of grassland landscape in the re-gion of Baden-Württemberg. The project is structured into the following working steps:

  • Documentation of the grassland areas of Baden-Württemberg, which are no longer used for forage production
  • Elaboration of scenarios for the setting aside of grassland in the middle- to long-term and identification of potential problem areas based on expert interviews.
  • Definition and description of the relevant technical, economical and ecological in-dicators for methods of energy production from grassland
  • Sustainability assessment of selected processes for energy production from grass-land on the basis of the integrative sustainability concept
  • Analysis whether the results can be transferred to the different regions of Baden-Württemberg
  • Workshops in selected regions to discuss the results and to identify implementation obstacles
  • Development of knowledge for orientation and decision making to achieve a sus-tainable preservation and development of the grassland regions by using energetic biomass technologies

Further information on the project (in German) html pdf

Publications

Contact

Dr. Christine Rösch
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe
Germany

Tel.: +49 721 608-22704
E-Mail