Now there’s often a lot of confusion generated around biofuels “in the leaves” of details. A strategic, whole-systems perspective tells us that moving from fossil fuels to biofuels helps with SP 1 violations – but for it really move us towards sustainability it must be done in a way that eventually eliminates SP2-4 violations. So if its biofuels are grown using huge amounts of pesticides & fertilizers that doesn’t help us with SP2 (and sets us back with regard to SP1, as its energy intensive to produce those). If they’re grown on huge tracks of previously natural areas, we’re done doing any good with regard to SP3, and if we get them from producers that exploit laborers (exposing them to toxins, underpaying them, etc) we’re not doing any good on SP4.
The good news is it’s fully possible to image creative ways to do this today – and by engaging on the process, we won’t be able to help but discover new innovations to continually do these things better. To keep the process moving, actions along this path should: 1) move us towards sustainability (i.e. not violating the 4 SPs), 2) be flexible platforms for supporting future actions, & 3) provide sufficient ROI to support & continue the process.
This study represents a great example of that – and touches on a couple of key components to sustainable agriculture & permaculture: integrating perennial crops (as the article says the roots sequester carbon, there’s less erosion from annual plowing and not all of the nutrients leave the soil with the harvest) & taking advantage of diversity (which when properly designed increases productivity by creating synergies, and mitigates risk of losses from pests & adverse weather conditions).
Check out this recap of the study with a link to the real deal.