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Gewählte Publikation:

Niedertscheider, M; Kastner, T; Fetzel, T; Haberl, H; Kroisleitner, C; Plutzar, C; Erb, KH.
(2016): Mapping and analysing cropland use intensity from a NPP perspective
ENVIRON RES LETT. 2016; 11(1): FullText FullText_BOKU

Meeting expected surges in global biomass demand while protecting pristine ecosystems likely requires intensification of current croplands. Yet many uncertainties relate to the potentials for cropland intensification, mainly because conceptualizing and measuring land use intensity is intricate, particularly at the global scale. We present a spatially explicit analysis of global cropland use intensity, following an ecological energy flow perspective. We analyze (a) changes of net primary production (NPP) from the potential system (i.e. assuming undisturbed vegetation) to croplands around 2000 and relate these changes to (b) inputs of (N) fertilizer and irrigation and (c) to biomass outputs, allowing for a three dimensional focus on intensification. Globally the actual NPP of croplands, expressed as per cent of their potential NPP (NPPact%), amounts to 77%. A mix of socio-economic and natural factors explains the high spatial variation which ranges from 22.6% to 416.0% within the inner 95 percentiles. NPPact% is well below NPPpot in many developing, (Sub-)Tropical regions, while it massively surpasses NPPpot on irrigated drylands and in many industrialized temperate regions. The interrelations of NPP losses (i.e. the difference between NPPact and NPPpot), agricultural inputs and biomass harvest differ substantially between biogeographical regions. Maintaining NPPpot was particularly N-intensive in forest biomes, as compared to cropland in natural grassland biomes. However, much higher levels of biomass harvest occur in forest biomes. We show that fertilization loads correlate with NPPact% linearly, but the relation gets increasingly blurred beyond a level of 125 kgN ha(-1). Thus, large potentials exist to improve N-efficiency at the global scale, as only 10% of global croplands are above this level. Reallocating surplus N could substantially reduce NPP losses by up to 80% below current levels and at the same time increase biomass harvest by almost 30%. However, we also show that eradicating NPP losses globally might not be feasible due to the high input costs and associated sustainability implications. Our analysis emphasizes the necessity to avoid mono-dimensional perspectives with respect to research on sustainable intensification pathways and the potential of integrated socio-ecological approaches for consistently contrasting environmental tradeoffs and societal benefits of land use intensification.
Autor*innen der BOKU Wien:
Erb Karlheinz
Haberl Helmut
Kastner Thomas
Niedertscheider Maria
Plutzar Christoph

Find related publications in this database (Keywords)
land use intensity
net primary production

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