Land use decision-making for biomass crop deployment, bridging the gap between national scale targets and field scale decisions
14 January 2022, 10am-12.30pm, via Microsoft Teams
A team of experts from across the Supergen Bioenergy Hub will lead an interactive online workshop on Friday 14 January 2022 from 10am – 12.30pm, exploring expansion and targets for biomass crops to support the UK’s transition to net zero.
The format for the online event will be a series of short informative sessions followed by interactive discussion groups to enable all participants to share their thoughts and views on the topics.
The workshop will bring together representatives from industry, policy, land management and the research community to explore three key questions:
- Where should biomass crops be located and what criteria should be used to identify suitable land?
- What tools are available or are needed to support landowners and policymakers to identify suitable land at a range of scales (from whole landscape to individual fields)?
- What are the barriers that could prevent suitable areas being utilised?
We will cover the latest developments in modelling land availability for biomass crops and current approaches to definitions of suitable land based on marginality, and experts from across the land use sector will highlight developments in land use decision tools. These talks will be used as the basis for discussion, with a focus on understanding not only what criteria should be used to select land suitable for biomass crop production, but also on how such criteria can be practically applied at different scales. Drawing on expertise from a range of stakeholders, the workshop will identify pathways and tools that will support perennial biomass crop deployment in the UK, highlight knowledge gaps and ensure that approaches are fit for purpose.
There has been considerable debate as to where in the UK landscape biomass crops should be located and how much suitable land is available. The modelling community has taken a lead in addressing this question. Models consider a suite of factors, including soil carbon stocks, crop yields and ecosystem services with – to avoid competition with food production – a focus on identifying marginal lands. Defining the marginality has however proven to be complex, with many and sometimes contrasting criteria used. Even where a definition can be agreed upon the criteria and processes used to categorise land parcels as marginal for modelling may be difficult to apply at the farm or field scale. For example, modelled impacts on soil carbon are often based on national soil maps and land use. National soil maps were, however, not intended to provide field scale data, and even high-resolution land use mapping may not fully capture land management practices, which also influence C stocks. This leaves a gap between the capability of current models and field scale decision-making. On top of this, even if we can identify suitable areas for biomass crop deployment, there are the barriers that remain that could prevent these areas being used.