Potential Suitability of Australian Marginal Lands for Biodiesel Crop Production Under Climate Change Scenarios Explored(full access to journal article may require subscription or payment) http://www.springerlink.com/content/p0700v6380722575/
Australia is one of many countries aiming for a sustainable biodiesel industry, with a target production of 350 ML (million liters) by 2010. However data from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics show that the 2005/2006 production of biodiesel was only 57 ML, or only one-fifth of the 2010 production target.
In an effort to boost production, the potential of harnessing marginal agricultural regions in Australia (estimated at 20 million hectares to 30 million hectares), for the cultivation of two "exotic biodiesel crops" was proposed. These are: (1) perennial pongam (Pongamia pinnata) and (2) annual Indian mustard (Brassica juncea). Researchers from the Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at the University of Sydney (Australia) explored the potential suitability (and economic viability) of cultivating these crops in marginal land areas under different climate change scenarios. The effect of climate change over time was considered a factor in assessing potential suitability, because data from 1950 to 2003 show that the average temperature in Australia has risen by 0.9 degrees Celsius.
Some highlights of the study are: (1) "total area suitable for growing pongam between 2040 and 2070 is substantially different from the suitable area under current climate", (2) there is greater variation in suitability projections for Indian mustard, but cropping options are flexible, and economic viability may depend on the crop's ability to receive renewable energy certificates and certified emission reductions, (3) "opportunities exist for sustainable pongam agroforestry to supply biodiesel to regional towns, cattle stations and mines in northern Australia". The full paper is published in the journal, Bioenergy Reseasrch (URL above).
Related information on pongam and Indian mustard:
This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)