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FAO/UNEP/UN-Energy Bioenergy Decision Support Tool -
MODULE 7: Deployment and Good Practices
• Risk management: include monitoring and contingency plan-
ning (e.g., control in cases of escape) in biofuel proposals.
Control procedures have to be viable and well-tested, includ-
ing contingency plan for invading species normally dispersed
by animals and other active means;
• Certifcation/accreditation processes: evaluate project
proposals according to criteria and/or certifcation schemes
for sustainable biofuels development (a number of such
processes are underway at the national and international
Organic farming relies on crop rotation, green manure, compost,
biological pest control, and mechanical cultivation to maintain
and improve soil productivity and control pests. Organic agri-
culture excludes or strictly limits the use of synthetic fertilizers
and synthetic pesticides, plant growth regulators, livestock
feed additives, and genetically modifed organisms. Various OA
techniques, such as improving soil fertility, applying substrates
and retaining crop residues can help to reduce soil erosion, thus
leading to greater soil carbon sequestration. Environmental and
human health risks are reduced due to the elimination of (toxic)
agro-chemical use. The reduction and improved management of
agricultural inputs also leads to a signifcant reduction in agricul-
tural GHG emissions.
Some bioenergy strategies will involve the use of agricultural resi-
dues, which can be a low cost source of feedstock if gathering of
residues can be accomplished economically. Complete removal of
agricultural residues is harmful to soils; however, no removal also
has deleterious effects. In conventional farming, when residue is
tilled under in the fall, agricultural residue can decompose to form
methane and thereby contribute to increased GHG emissions. For
above-ground material, the highest recommended removal rates
are 50-70% and the lowest tend to be in the range of 20-30%.
There are many site-specifc issues that can arise, depending on
soil type (clay, sand, silt), slope and prevailing weather conditions.
Where the equipment is available, farmers can make a scientifc
assessment of a suitable removal rate using software tools such
as Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (
Sustainable Land Management is “the adoption of land use
Table 4: Examples Of Sustainable Agricultural Practices For Bioenergy Feedstocks In Relation To
Environmental/Ecological Goals
The different approaches to sustainable agriculture share a number of elements and techniques; some approaches are complemen-
tary while some overlap. The applicability of particular practices will depend on the feedstock characteristics and on biophysical and
socio-economic conditions.
• Improve crop varieties
and new alternative crops
to obtain better yields
and improve suitability for
specifc contexts
• adopt rotations and
multiple cropping patterns
• keep soils covered by
making greater use of
temporary cover crops
(between successive
crops or between rows of
• adopt production systems
with reduced reliance on
external inputs, including
optimization of nutrient
inputs and IPM practices
• enhance plant and animal
productivity and effciency
• devise crop sequences
to optimize use of labour
and equipment
• improve access to
appropriate farming tools
and equipment
• adopt energy saving
practices in farming
• utilize renewable energy
to power mechanization
and processing
• minimize use of machin-
ery and energy intensive
chemical inputs
• foster carbon sequestra-
tion and soil conservation
through reduced tillage,
no tillage, contour farm-
ing, strip cropping and
terracing, use of cover
crops, etc.
• use agro-ecological
zoning for biofuel crops
to optimise growing
conditions and minimise
impacts of land use
• incorporate energy
cascading and multiple
uses into bioenergy
• utilise energy and non-
energy co-products from
biofuel production to the
fullest extent possible
• limit use of pesticides,
through Integrated Pest
Management (IPM)
• identify and conserve
wildlife habitats in land-
scapes and on the farm
• diversify cropping
• minimize impact of farm
operations such as tillage
and agrochemical use on
• manage feld margins to
reduce noxious/invasive
weeds and to encourage
diverse fora and fauna
with benefcial species
• establish biofuel produc-
tion areas in a manner
that maintains or restores
connectivity between
habitat patches
• adopt perennial and
mixed-species systems
and adopt harvesting
schedules that retain
habitat continuity
• limit large scale mono-
• maintain soil cover to
provide conducive habitat
for soil biota
• maintain and restore
wetlands in landscapes
where feedstocks are
• use crops that can
absorb and utilise waste-
water (e.g. salix/willow)
where feasible
Rainfed production
• maximize water infltra-
tion and minimize
run-off through no-tillage
systems with soil cover
• enhance functioning
of the water cycle by
establishing permanent
Irrigated Production
• control water tables
to prevent excessive
• accurately schedule
• adopt water saving and
recycling measures to
prevent salinization
• reduce or eliminate nitrate
pollution of water
• use precision irrigation
where feasible, appropri-
ate and fnancially viable
• promote practices for
crop and soil manage-
ment that enhance soil
quality and build up
soil organic matter and
carbon stocks, such as
conservation agriculture
• appropriate crop rotations
– to increase soil fertility,
limit need for external
inputs and increase long
term soil productivity
• reduce or eliminate tillage
• maintain soil cover to
reduce erosion, increase
water infltration and
provide conducive habitat
for soil biota
• responsible use of fertiliz-
ers and agrochemicals –
appropriate amounts and
timing of applications and
safe storage and disposal
• use perennials in crop
rotations in vulnerable soil
• for bioenergy strategies
relying on agricultural
residues, set limits for
removals based on crite-
ria for soil conditioning
Sources: IPCC (2008) 4th Assessment Report, FAO (2003) Good Agricultural Practices, FAO (2008) Low Greenhouse Gas Agriculture