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Pan-European regional-scale modelling of water and
N efficiencies of rapeseed cultivation for biodiesel production


Marijn van der Velde, tel. +39 0332 789218, fax +39 0332 785601, e-mail:


The energy produced from the investment in biofuel crops needs to account for the environmental impacts on soil, water, climate change and ecosystem services. A regionalized approach is needed to evaluate the environmental costs of large-scale biofuel production. We present a regional pan-European simulation of rapeseed (Brassica napus) cultivation. Rapeseed is the European Union's dominant biofuel crop with a share of about 80% of the feedstock. To improve the assessment of the environmental impact of this biodiesel production, we performed a pan-European simulation of rapeseed cultivation at a 10 × 10 km scale with Environmental Policy Integrated Climate (EPIC). The model runs with a daily time step and model input consists of spatialized meteorological measurements, and topographic, soil, land use, and farm management practices data and information. Default EPIC model parameters were calibrated based on literature. Modelled rapeseed yields were satisfactory compared with yields at regional level reported for 151 regions obtained for the period from 1995 to 2003 for 27 European Union member countries, along with consistent modelled and reported yield responses to precipitation, radiation and vapour pressure deficit at regional level. The model is currently set up so that plant nutrient stress is not occurring. Total fertilizer consumption at country level was compared with IFA/FAO data. This approach allows us to evaluate environmental pressures and efficiencies arising from and associated with rapeseed cultivation to further complete the environmental balance of biofuel production and consumption.

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