Procurement of agricultural commodities

Renewable resources - An old hat on a new head.


Biofuels portal of agrocult ag

renewable resources - an old hat on a new head


Environmental advantages

The environment also benefits. Being derived from plants means that post-consumer waste products are easily disposed of by burning or composting. As such, they only ever release the amount of CO2 that they removed from the atmosphere while growing, as they would regardless of human use. Unlike fossil resources, they are largely CO2 neutral, with essentially closed material and energy loops meaning they will not continue to contaminate once the CO2 has been released. Using products of this type can thus assist in alleviating the increasingly pronounced greenhouse effect and thereby in countering global climate change. Even just planting the renewable resources ensures that these industrial crops not only make a contribution to the landscape in optical terms but also, through their biological diversity. They serve to extend the varied nature of our cultivated landscape and to break up the, at times, particularly strict crop rotation practised in agriculture. Frequent changes in the crops we grow not only maintain the fertility of the soil but also counter pest infestation.       


Opportunities for Agriculture and Industry

As an alternative to food production, the production of renewable resources first of all has direct advantages for agriculture. In order to counter the surplus production of food, the state obliges farmers to set aside a certain percentage of their land each year, i.e. to refrain from using it. To offset this, they receive compensatory payments. By growing industrial plants it is not only possible to make use of this set-aside land without having to relinquish the payments but this also represents a meaningful alternative to solely producing food products. The farmer takes on a new role as a producer of specially-tailored components of a multitude of industries.

This is because renewable resources are high-tech materials. Supplying the properties required by the processors requires conventional food crops to be modified by breeding, and it also means that growing methods have to be perfected which will be a benefit to us all.


To sum up, it can be stated that:

Over the medium to long term, the advantages of renewable resources can make a contribution towards solving problems related to the economy, the environment and society. By using renewable resources, both as energy and in material form, it is possible to set up closed-loop systems and thus make a move towards towards an economic system based on "sustainable development", in line with Agenda 21. The growth in the use of biomass for energy in Germany is commensurate with the aim set out in the EU Commission's White Paper on "Energy for the future: renewable sources of energy" of increasing the amount of energy obtained from biomass in the EU threefold by 2010. In producing renewable resources, agriculture and forestry are thus rendering a service to society as a whole. The cultivation and use of renewable resources has the following positive effects: renewable resources are largely CO2-neutral. No additional greenhouse effect is created through their use, and they contribute towards making savings on finite fossil resources, such as crude oil, natural gas and coal.

They open up opportunities for achieving a closed-loop economy. Using products based on renewable resources in environmentally-sensitive areas has many advantages, since these resources provide a means of achieving innovative developments and new products that can be marketed worldwide. Rural areas also benefit from renewable resources in that existing jobs are retained and new ones are opened up in the countryside. Agriculture and forestry are offered alternative forms of production and sources of income through renewable resources. And since industry as a whole and, in particular, the chemical industry require resources that are precisely tailored to their requirements, it is not only agriculture that is up against a challenge here. Intelligent research is also required to ensure that optimum preliminary work can be conducted for industry. Plant breeding, biotechnology and genetic engineering will make it possible to achieve the desired quality of resources and to optimise yields.

In this way, agriculture is able to supply high-grade feed materials today that save industry the elaborate conversion stages that are required for fossil resources. Plants have constituent components with a value that has remained unrecognised for a long period of time. Having been accustomed to processing fossil resources for many decades, industry has now had to come to appreciate the benefits of renewable resources once again. Conventional processing methods have had to be adapted and new ones developed - certainly a worthwhile task given the ecological advantages and also the attractive market for products based on renewable resources.
A broad field then, which still requires a great deal of research and development. And promoting this R&D has been the aim of the Agency for Renewable Resources since 1993. The initial successes achieved are borne out by the projects, as well as by the statistics on the cultivation and processing of crops for industry.