One of the great arguments against biofuels is the wisdom, if not the morality, of using land to produce fuel instead of food. But research out of Illinois suggests it doesn’t have to be an either-or proposition.
Researchers at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have found that biofuel crops cultivated on land unsuitable for food crops could produce as much as half the world’s current fuel consumption without adverse impact on food crops or pastureland.
The study, published in Environmental Science and Technology, identifies land around the world that is unsuitable for food production but could be used to raise biofuel feedstocks like switchgrass.
According to the researchers, many studies examining biofuel crop viability focus on yield — how productive the crop can be. They wanted to examine land availability to determine whether it is possible to produce sufficient biofuel to meet demand without sacrificing food production.