Cropping Miscanthus x giganteus in commercial fields : from agro-environmental diagnostic to ex ante design and assessment of energy oriented cropping systems

Résumé : Second-generation biofuels could provide renewable energy while reducing the globaleconomy dependence on oil and mitigating climate change. However, their greenhouse gasemission balances, as well as their energy and environmental balances, are discussed,especially when they are produced from agricultural feedstock. The use of agriculturalfeedstock for energy purposes also raises the issue of competition with food production. Inthis context, this work contributes to the assessment of the sustainability of Miscanthus xgiganteus, a perennial C4 crop candidate to the production of second-generation ethanol. Theobjectives of this work are (i) to achieve a multicriteria evaluation of cropping systems basedon M. Giganteus using data collected in farmers’ fields and (ii) to compare these croppingsystems with cropping systems including other resources Agricultural candidates for biofuelproduction. The main contributions of this work are (i) the study of the variability of yieldsand winter nitrate losses in a network of commercial fields located in Burgundy (France), (ii)the characterization by modeling of M. giganteus long-term yield evolution and (iii) theintegration of these findings in a process of cropping systems design and assessment aimingat comparing M. giganteus with other feedstock candidate to the production of bioethanol.The study of M. giganteus in farmers’ fields shows that the high variability of yields andnitrate losses is linked to (i) crop age, (ii) soil type and (iii) the type of field (i.e. culturalhistory, size, shape, and environment). Contrasting yield scenarios, built by combining datacollected in commercial fields with a long-term yield evolution model, show that thesensitivity of assessment results regarding yields depends on the assessment field. Theinsertion of M. giganteus in a cropping system can significantly improve the greenhouse gasemission balance as well as the environmental balance, compared with a cropping systembased on a short cropping sequence. Economic results depend strongly on M. giganteus yield.Other agricultural feedstocks are also interesting, especially on soils where the yield potentialof M. giganteus is low: this is particularly the case of alfalfa stems, which can be used forsecond-generation ethanol production.
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Claire Lesur. Cropping Miscanthus x giganteus in commercial fields : from agro-environmental diagnostic to ex ante design and assessment of energy oriented cropping systems. Agricultural sciences. AgroParisTech, 2012. English. ⟨NNT : 2012AGPT0084⟩. ⟨tel-01124310⟩

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