Socioeconomic and environmental assessment of biodiesel crops on family farming systems in Brazil

J.G. Dal Belo Leitea, F. Barbosa Justino, J.V. Nunes Vieira da Silva, M.J. Florin, M.K. van Ittersum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In Brazil, local agricultural research agendas are increasingly challenged by the search for sustainable biodiesel crop options for family farmers, especially under semi-arid conditions. The aim of this paper is to explore the suitability of different biodiesel crops (i.e. soybean, castor bean and sunflower) through a set of environmental and socioeconomic indicators in a semi-arid (Montes Claros) and a more humid (Chapada Gaúcha) municipality in the state of Minas Gerais, southeast Brazil. A technical coefficient generator (TechnoGIN) was used to assess current (maize, beans, soybean and grass seed) and alternative (castor bean and sunflower) crops grown with current and alternative production techniques. The quantification of the inputs and outputs was based on farm surveys, expert knowledge, literature and field experiments. Although castor bean and sunflower are economically competitive with maize in Montes Claros, feed and labour requirements may hinder farmers' adoption. In Chapada Gaúcha, the double cropping system soybean/sunflower presented small economic gains when compared to soybean; it also increased nitrogen losses and biocide residues. We conclude that the scope for alternative and sustainable biodiesel crops on family farms is limited. Their economic benefits are small or absent, while their introduction can lead to higher environmental impacts and there may be trade-offs with food and feed availability at the farm level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-34
JournalAgricultural Systems
Volume133
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • nitrogen-use efficiency
  • land-use systems
  • integrated assessment
  • ecological intensification
  • cereal production
  • ammonium-sulfate
  • cropping systems
  • pest-management
  • yield
  • agriculture

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