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Assessment of biofuel feedstock production in South Africa: Synthesis report on estimating water use efficiency of biofuel crops (Volume 1)
Expanded Title:South Africa is following the international trend of liquid biofuel production, as noted in the South African Biofuels Industrial Strategy of 2007. This strategy highlighted the benefits of biofuel production in terms of alleviating poverty in rural areas, promoting rural economic development and stimulating agricultural production. A 2% blend of biofuels in the national liquid fuel supply, equivalent to an annual production of approximately 400 million litres of biofuel, was proposed by the former Department of Minerals and Energy (DME). To ensure sustainable biofuel production, South Africa plans to grow feedstock on currently under-utilised arable land and preferably under rainfed conditions. In 2006, the task team that developed the biofuels strategy urged the government to determine the impacts of biofuel feedstock production on both water quality and water quantity. The Water Research Commission (WRC) responded to this request and funded a two-year (2007-2009) scoping study on the water use of biofuel feedstocks. The main aims of the scoping study were to 1) identify suitable feedstock for the production of biofuel, 2) map areas climatically suited to feedstock cultivation, 3) determine the available knowledge on feedstock water use, 4) model the water requirements of selected feedstock, and 5) identify existing knowledge gaps. The scoping study report concluded that both sugarcane and sweet sorghum show potential to use more water than the natural vegetation they may replace, whilst other crops (e.g. sugarbeet, canola, soybean & sunflower) do not. However, the scoping study highlighted that for the emerging feedstocks (e.g. sugar beet & sweet sorghum), parameter values were gleaned from the international literature. The literature also provided conflicting water use figures for certain feedstocks (in particular sweet sorghum) and that knowledge is surprisingly limited for certain crops (e.g. canola). The scoping study recommended a need to better understand the water use and yield of biofuel feedstocks. In addition, a more detailed mapping approach was required to identify feedstock growth areas that considered additional site factors (not just rainfall and temperature). Based on these recommendations, the WRC initiated and funded a six-year (i.e. more comprehensive) follow-up study. This six-year solicited project began in April 2009 and was led by several partners. The aims of the follow-up study were broadly similar to those of the scoping study, except for the need to estimate crop yield and bio-fuel yield.
Date Published:01/11/2015
Document Type:Research Report
Document Subjects:Agricultural Water - Small holder irrigation, Agricultural Water - Rainwater harvesting
Document Format:Report
Document File Type:pdf
Research Report Type:Standard
WRC Report No:1874/1/15
ISBN No:978-1-4312-0748-0
Authors:Kunz RP; Mengistu MG; Steytler B; Doidge IA ; Gush MB; du Toit ES; Davis NS; Jewitt EPW; Everson CS
Project No:K5/1874
Originator:WRC
Organizations:CSIR; University of Kwazulu Natal; University of Pretoria; Isikhungusethu Environmental Services
Document Size:3 213 KB
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