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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Multifunctional perennial production systems for bioenergy: performance and progress

Englund, Oskar; Dimitriou, Ioannis; Dale, Virginia H.; Kline, Keith L.; Mola-Yudego, Blas; Murphy, Fionnuala; English, Burton; McGrath, John; Busch, Gerald; Negri, Maria Cristina; Brown, Mark; Goss, Kevin; Jackson, Sam; Parish, Esther S.; Cacho, Jules; Zumpf, Colleen; Quinn, John; Mishra, Shruti K.


As the global population increases and becomes more affluent, biomass demands for food and biomaterials will increase. Demand growth is further accelerated by the implementation of climate policies and strategies to replace fossil resources with biomass. There are, however, concerns about the size of the prospective biomass demand and the environmental and social consequences of the corresponding resource mobilization, especially concerning impacts from the associated land-use change. Strategically integrating perennials into landscapes dominated by intensive agriculture can, for example, improve biodiversity, reduce soil erosion and nutrient emissions to water, increase soil carbon, enhance pollination, and avoid or mitigate flooding events. Such "multifunctional perennial production systems" can thus contribute to improving overall land-use sustainability, while maintaining or increasing overall biomass productivity in the landscape. Seven different cases in different world regions are here reviewed to exemplify and evaluate (a) multifunctional production systems that have been established to meet emerging bioenergy demands, and (b) efforts to identify locations where the establishment of perennial crops will be particularly beneficial. An important barrier towards wider implementation of multifunctional systems is the lack of markets, or policies, compensating producers for enhanced ecosystem services and other environmental benefits. This deficiency is particularly important since prices for fossil-based fuels are low relative to bioenergy production costs. Without such compensation, multifunctional perennial production systems will be unlikely to contribute to the development of a sustainable bioeconomy.This article is categorized under:Bioenergy > Systems and InfrastructureBioenergy > Climate and EnvironmentEnergy Policy and Planning > Climate and Environment


bioenergy; biomass; land use; multifunctional production systems; perennial crops

Published in

Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews Energy and Environment
2020, volume: 9, number: 5, article number: e375

Authors' information

Englund, Oskar
Mid Sweden Univ
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Crop Production Ecology
Dale, Virginia H.
Univ Tennessee
Kline, Keith L.
Oak Ridge Natl Lab
Mola-Yudego, Blas
Univ Eastern Finland
Murphy, Fionnuala
Univ Coll Dublin
English, Burton
Univ Tennessee
McGrath, John
McGrath Forestry Serv
Busch, Gerald
Bur Appl Landscape Ecol and Scenario Anal
Negri, Maria Cristina
Argonne Natl Lab
Brown, Mark
Univ Sunshine Coast
Goss, Kevin
Kevin Goss Consulting
Jackson, Sam
Genera Energy Inc
Parish, Esther S.
Oak Ridge Natl Lab
Cacho, Jules
Argonne Natl Lab
Zumpf, Colleen
Argonne Natl Lab
Quinn, John
Argonne Natl Lab
Mishra, Shruti K.
Argonne Natl Lab

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG13 Climate action
SDG12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

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