Negative Effects of Biodiesel on Modern Agriculture
Processing biodiesel from crops normally used for human consumption has produced the following undesirable effects:
1. Food vs. Fuel Conflict
Unwanted competition between the fuel producers and the indigenous people is creating an ongoing conflict.
2. Land Use
The profit made by the biodiesel fuel producers is such that they can pay a good price for their feedstock crops. This encourages poor people to grow more crops using reclaimed land from deforestation.
3. Environmental Impacts
A) Fertilizer usage
The crops are often forced to grow faster and give bigger yields by the application of fertilizers. These fertilizers contain major chemical nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, ammonia and potassium, along with other micro-nutrients of calcium, magnesium, sulfur.
These leach into the watercourse causing pollution, and eutrophication to rivers and the sea in coastal areas. The soil will gradually become depleted due to the lack of required trace elements, eventually becoming barren.
The production of fertilizers also requires high levels of power, with the attendant emission of greenhouse gasses.
As land for growing the crops becomes scarce, more forests, including rainforests are being cleared to make way for cultivation of crops for biodiesel. This not only destroys habitats but reduces the amount of CO2 absorbed naturally by trees.