Organic Agriculture

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 243–268 | Cite as

The alliance of agricultural bioenergy and organic farming topics in scientific literature

  • Torsten SiegmeierEmail author
  • Benjamin Blumenstein
  • Detlev Möller


In view of limited natural resources and the ecological and socioeconomic crises of the past decades, the sustainability of energy supply and the sustainability of land-use systems are major challenges to society. Bioenergy (BES) and organic farming systems (OFS) both gained increasing public and scientific attention as approaches to meet current global challenges by substituting fossil energy sources (BES) and implementing more sustainable farming practices (OFS). However, energy crop production poses new threats to the sustainability of land-use systems, while organic farming also strongly depends on fossil fuels. So not only are bioenergy and organic farming falling short on sustainability issues, they are also interconnected. Therefore, in this review the alliance of BES and OFS in scientific literature is investigated. A systematic procedure for identifying relevant publications is combined with a content analytical approach for reviewing and examining the literature. We describe the status quo and the main contents of scientific publications in the context of OFS and BES in order to produce an overview of research topics, to summarize main findings and to identify research gaps and future research needs. Results show that there are synergetic approaches to integrate OFS and BES which are investigated and discussed in science. Potentials are especially identified and discussed for anaerobic digestion while other BES and topics are underrepresented in the BES/OFS literature. However, many questions remain and new approaches should be evaluated particularly from a systems’ or chain perspective. We conclude that future developments in organic farming will have to integrate the energy perspective. As resources become increasingly scarce and allocation of land is already heavily disputed, a co-development of OFS and BES may be imperative in order to further enhance OFS.

Keywords Organic agriculture Literature review Biogas Anaerobic digestion Biofuel sustainability 


*Articles included in the literature analysis

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Torsten Siegmeier
    • 1
    Email author
  • Benjamin Blumenstein
    • 1
  • Detlev Möller
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences, Department of Farm ManagementUniversity of KasselWitzenhausenGermany

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