IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Optimal combinable and dedicated energy crop scenarios for marginal land


  • Glithero, N.J.
  • Wilson, P.
  • Ramsden, S.J.


Modern biomass energy sources account for less than 2% of primary world energy supplies while major economies have enabled legislation that aims to increase bioenergy production. In response to controversies over first generation biofuel, it has been argued that ‘marginal land’ should be used to produce dedicated energy crops (DECs). However, defining marginality of agricultural land is complex, and moreover, DECs would have to out-compete current agricultural production in these areas. Utilising a bio-economic farm-level modelling approach we investigate the impact that crop yield penalties resulting from production in marginal land contexts have on financially optimal farm-level crop plans. Where farm businesses choose to de-invest in own farm machinery, yield reductions of less than 10% for winter wheat result in a financially optimal switch to 100% miscanthus production. By contrast, in the presence of own farm machinery, winter wheat yield penalties of 30% are required before 100% miscanthus production is financially optimal. However, under circumstances where DECs also suffer yield penalties on marginal land, the financially optimal crop mix includes combinable crops. The results demonstrate that the optimal crop mix is dependent upon the relative combinable and DEC yields, together with farm-level decisions towards machinery ownership. The focus of much policy attention relating to production of DECs on ‘marginal land’ is therefore argued to be incomplete. Policies which encourage farmers to de-invest in own farm machinery, or incentivise the purchase of specific DEC machinery, may play an important role in assisting the development of DEC production.

Suggested Citation

  • Glithero, N.J. & Wilson, P. & Ramsden, S.J., 2015. "Optimal combinable and dedicated energy crop scenarios for marginal land," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 82-91.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:147:y:2015:i:c:p:82-91
    DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2015.01.119

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. G. M. Peterson & J. K. Galbraith, 1932. "The Concept of Marginal Land," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 14(2), pages 295-310.
    2. Sherrington, Chris & Moran, Dominic, 2010. "Modelling farmer uptake of perennial energy crops in the UK," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 3567-3578, July.
    3. Glithero, N.J. & Ramsden, S.J. & Wilson, P., 2012. "Farm systems assessment of bioenergy feedstock production: Integrating bio-economic models and life cycle analysis approaches," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 53-64.
    4. Janssen, Sander & van Ittersum, Martin K., 2007. "Assessing farm innovations and responses to policies: A review of bio-economic farm models," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 94(3), pages 622-636, June.
    5. Derek Headey & Shenggen Fan, 2008. "Anatomy of a crisis: the causes and consequences of surging food prices," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 39(s1), pages 375-391, November.
    6. Ramsden, S. & Gibbons, J. & Wilson, P., 1999. "Impacts of changing relative prices on farm level dairy production in the UK," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 201-215, December.
    7. Shortall, O.K., 2013. "“Marginal land” for energy crops: Exploring definitions and embedded assumptions," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 19-27.
    8. Alexander, Peter & Moran, Dominic, 2013. "Impact of perennial energy crops income variability on the crop selection of risk averse farmers," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 587-596.
    9. Wilson, P. & Glithero, N.J. & Ramsden, S.J., 2014. "Prospects for dedicated energy crop production and attitudes towards agricultural straw use: The case of livestock farmers," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 101-110.
    10. Bocquého, G. & Jacquet, F., 2010. "The adoption of switchgrass and miscanthus by farmers: Impact of liquidity constraints and risk preferences," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 2598-2607, May.
    11. Glithero, Neryssa J. & Wilson, Paul & Ramsden, Stephen J., 2013. "Prospects for arable farm uptake of Short Rotation Coppice willow and miscanthus in England," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 209-218.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:renene:v:114:y:2017:i:pb:p:781-793 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Townsend, Toby J. & Ramsden, Stephen J. & Wilson, Paul, 2016. "Analysing reduced tillage practices within a bio-economic modelling framework," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 91-102.
    3. repec:eee:appene:v:225:y:2018:i:c:p:124-134 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Townsend, Toby J. & Ramsden, Stephen J. & Wilson, Paul, 2015. "Towards Sustainable Intensification of Cropping Systems: Analysing Reduced Tillage Practices within a Bio-Economic Modelling Framework," 89th Annual Conference, April 13-15, 2015, Warwick University, Coventry, UK 204298, Agricultural Economics Society.
    5. repec:eee:appene:v:205:y:2017:i:c:p:477-485 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Adams, P.W.R. & Lindegaard, K., 2016. "A critical appraisal of the effectiveness of UK perennial energy crops policy since 1990," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 188-202.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:147:y:2015:i:c:p:82-91. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.