Lovisa Björnsson has, together with Thomas Prade at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, published a new article titled 'Sustainable Cereal Straw Management: Use as Feedstock for Emerging Biobased Industries or Cropland Soil Incorporation?'. The full article can be found here (open access): link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12649-021-01419-9
The focus of the article is the conflicting sustainability goals for the management of cereal straw, which is an abundant agricultural by-product in Europe. This study provides new knowledge on straw availability and the potential impact of large-scale straw removal on organic matter in agricultural soils in a regional investigation in Sweden. General straw removal restrictions are currently applied in the EU, with the aim of preserving soil organic matter. However, the findings of this study show that soil incorporation of straw is not generally efficient for organic matter build-up. Restrictions on straw removal can be unnecessary, and may prevent the implementation of more efficient measures for organic matter preservation. We suggest cultivation of intermediate crops as an alternative approach that would allow both unrestricted straw removal and contribute to soil organic matter build-up, with little impact on the cost of straw as feedstock for biobased industries. The conflicting sustainability goals between straw removal and use and soil incorporation can thus be avoided.