Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Science Search

Science and Research Projects

Return to Science Search homepage   Return to Project List

Risks and Opportunities of Current and Future Maize Production - SCF0405

Description
Government policy aims to achieve at least 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020,
including energy from waste. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a proven technology that can convert
food waste into energy and its development is being supported by a range of incentives. Defra
has encouraged the development of farm AD units to improve the use of farmyard manures and
slurries, however the low output from these sources means that they are co-digested with
purpose grown feedstock such as maize. The Defra June 2014 land use survey indicates that
29kha of maize was grown for bioenergy in England (0.6% of total crop area), an estimated
doubling of the area since 2013. The area of maize is likely to expand, possibly by as much as
tenfold, as more AD units become operational, leading to concerns over the potential
environmental impacts including soil and water quality and biodiversity, as well as impacts on
local rents and food production.

This project aims to assess the economic and environmental impact of current and future maize
production in England and Wales, taking into account recent research on the direct
environmental impacts of maize, indirect effects on land use change, and potential benefits of
production for bioenergy or livestock feed.
Objective
WP1 Impacts of bioenergy maize cultivation on agricultural land rental prices: Trends in land
rental prices from published sources will be analysed by region and farm type to give context to
4 case studies of AD units where land rental prices pre and post installation from farmers and
local land agents will be examined using statistical regression techniques to test for a
relationship.

WP2 Quantifying the environmental footprint of maize production: Experts will review recent
studies to identify and quantify the range of direct environmental costs and benefits arising from
maize cultivation and its uses (bioenergy and livestock feed) in England and Wales, such as
biodiversity, soil, water and GHG emissions, as well risk factors and potential mitigations.
Indirect land use change will be estimated through information from case studies and Defra and
industry statistics to identify type of land displacement. Farmscoper will be used to produce a
quantifiable net environmental footprint of maize production at the catchment, landscape and
national scales.

WP3 An economic assessment of the costs and benefits of maize production: Using the findings
from WP1-2, monetary costs and benefits of economic and environmental impacts of maize will
be generated and an economic model developed, in order to evaluate the total economic value
of potential future maize production, which consider relative prices of maize and key cash crops.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : SCF0405 Maize AD report - FINAL 100216   (2590k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2015

To: 2015

Cost: £148,650
Contractor / Funded Organisations
A D A S UK Ltd (ADAS)
Keywords
Economic Research