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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Sustainable Cereal Straw Management: Use as Feedstock for Emerging Biobased Industries or Cropland Soil Incorporation?

Björnsson, Lovisa; Prade, Thomas


Sustainability goals regarding biobased chemicals and fuels can lead to increased demand for cereal straw, which could lead to undesirable effects on soil organic matter (SOM) content. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of removing straw on SOM, using a life cycle approach based on agricultural statistics and soil carbon modelling. This regional evaluation in southern Sweden showed that the general restrictions on straw removal recommended in many European studies, with demands on the incorporation of at least half of the aboveground straw, is not an efficient means of SOM preservation. Unrestricted straw removal in combination with the cultivation of intermediate crops leads to a much higher SOM build-up. Such measures will increase the availability of removable straw 2.5 times, at little extra cost. The findings of this study demonstrate the necessity of regional evaluation, taking new findings on the impact of straw incorporation on SOM into consideration. This is important for both regional emerging biobased industries, where unnecessary restrictions on straw removal might hamper the development of new production pathways, and for future sustainability in agriculture, where well-intended but inefficient SOM preservation strategies might hinder the implementation of more efficient measures.[GRAPHICS].


Soil carbon; Greenhouse gas emissions; Intermediate crops; Cover crops; Conflicting sustainability goals

Published in

Waste and Biomass Valorization
2021, volume: 12, number: 10, pages: 5649-5663

Authors' information

Björnsson, Lovisa
Lund University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Biosystems and Technology

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG7 Affordable and clean energy

UKÄ Subject classification

Renewable Bioenergy Research
Environmental Sciences
Agricultural Science

Publication Identifiers


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