Global biofuel land area estimated

Jan. 10, 2011 at 7:51 PM

CHAMPAIGN, Ill., Jan. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say biofuel crops grown on available land could meet half of the world's current fuel consumption without affecting food crops or pastureland.

University of Illinois researchers, using detailed land analysis, identified land around the globe available to produce grass crops for biofuels with minimal impact on agriculture or the environment, a UI release said Monday.

"The questions we're trying to address are, what kind of land could be used for biofuel crops?" environmental engineering Professor Ximing Cai said.

"If we have land, where is it and what is the current land cover?

The Illinois study focused on marginal land for biofuel crops. Marginal land refers to land with low inherent productivity, that has been abandoned or degraded, or is of low quality for agricultural uses.

In their computer modeling, the researchers ruled out current crop land, pasture land, and forests.

They also assumed biofuel crops would be watered by rainfall and not irrigation, so no water would have to be diverted from agricultural land.

Researchers said an estimated land area of 2.7 million acres was available globally, an area that would produce 26 to 56 percent of the world's current liquid fuel consumption.

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