Perennial energy crops and biodiversity could be benefitial for fauna in metal contaminated soils, said a very recent article published in Biomass and Bioenergy Journal (Feb 2014).
“To meet the EU production target (+10% by 2020) for renewable fuel, will require allocating vast quantities of agricultural land to growing bioenergy crops, in majority perennial nonedible grasses. This, while there already appears to be little chance of the world’s current arable acreage being sufficient to produce enough food to meet rising future demand. Consequently, a renewed interest in looking for areas degraded by human activities as possible sources for bioenergy crops establishment has emerged. Agriculture for biomass energy can move into such abandoned land that does not have competing uses and. For example, soils of contaminated agrosystems represent potential arable land surfaces for the production of non-alimentary crops, providing that such cropping systems do not lead to increased risks for the environment. In the case of contaminated agricultural soils, there remains a critical need for empirical data on the consequences of implementing new agroenergy productions systems on biodiversity conservation, especially on belowground fauna. “
The author’s hypothesis was that biomass crop establishment on contaminated soils allows for belowground diversity to increase by modifying important niche parameters such as food availability and quality or microhabitat conditions.
In this article, “soil collembolans have been shown to be sensitive to the establishment of bioenergy crops on polluted soils with a strong increase of abundance and diversity compared to annual wheat crops”. The identity of bioenergy crops is a critical factor driving the composition and structure of collembolan communities which might have far-reaching consequences for microbial processes and reproduction of fungi and bacteria, including potential pathogens. Finally, on contaminated land the inclusion of perennial bioenergy crops seems to have the potential to increase belowground faunal diversity and abundance.
Current monocultures and abandoned lands worldwide are sometimes subject of wrong measures and management by farmers and public organizations. Several studies confirm that managing grasslands and perennials can be clearly benefitial to maximized the productivity in the long term and this is compatible with an increased biodiversity in the ecosystems.