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Distribution, utilization structure and potential of biomass resources in rural China: With special references of crop residues


  • Liu, H.
  • Jiang, G.M.
  • Zhuang, H.Y.
  • Wang, K.J.


As the largest developing country in the world, China is urgently in short of energy and natural resources. However, biological resources such as crop residues are burnt in the field, which cause serious environmental pollution. Still it is not clear how much storage and potential of these huge crop residues are in China. This paper firstly reported the distribution, utilization structure and potential of crop biomass and provided the tangible information of crop residues in rural China through careful collecting and recalculating data. From 1995 to 2005, China produces some 630 million tons of crop residues per year, 50% of which comes from east and central south of China. The amount of crop residues is 1.3 times of the total yield of crops, 2 times of the total fodder of grassland, which covers 41% of China's territory. Crop residues of corn, wheat and rice amounted to 239, 137 and 116 million tons, respectively, accounting for nearly 80% of the total crop residues. Unfortunately, the utilizing structure is seriously improper for such abundant biomass resources. Although 23% of the crop residues are used for forage, 4% for industry materials and 0.5% for biogas, the large parts are used with lower efficiency or wasted, with 37% being directly combusted by farmers, 15% lost during collection and the rest 20.5% discarded or directly burnt in the field. Reasonable adjustment of the utilizing pattern and popularization of the recycling agriculture are essential out-ways for residues, with the development of the forage industry being the breakthrough point. We suggested that utilizing the abandoned 20.5% of the total residues for forage and combining agriculture and stock raising can greatly improve the farm system and cut down fertilizer pollution. Through the development of forage industries, the use efficiency of crop residues could be largely enhanced. Commercializing and popularizing technologies of biomass gasification and liquefaction might be substitute solutions of China's energy shortage.

Suggested Citation

  • Liu, H. & Jiang, G.M. & Zhuang, H.Y. & Wang, K.J., 2008. "Distribution, utilization structure and potential of biomass resources in rural China: With special references of crop residues," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 12(5), pages 1402-1418, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:rensus:v:12:y:2008:i:5:p:1402-1418

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    References listed on IDEAS

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