Yield and spatial supply of bioenergy poplar and willow short-rotation coppice in the UK


Author for correspondence:
Gail Taylor
Tel: +44 (0)2380 592335
Fax: +44 (0)2380 594459
Email: g.taylor@soton.ac.uk


  • • Limited information on likely supply and spatial yield of bioenergy crops exists for the UK. Here, productivities are reported of poplar (Populus spp.) and willow (Salix spp.) grown as short-rotation coppice (SRC), using data from a large 49-site yield trial network.
  • • A partial least-squares regression technique was used to upscale actual field trial observations across England and Wales. Spatial productivity was then assessed under different land-use scenarios.
  • • Mean modelled yields ranged between 4.9 and 10.7 oven-dry tonnes (odt) ha−1 yr−1. Yields were generally higher in willow than in poplar, reflecting the susceptibility of older poplar genotypes to rust and their tendency for single stem dominance. Replacing 10% of arable land, 20% of improved grassland and 100% of set-aside grassland in England and Wales with the three most productive genotypes would yield 13 Modt of biomass annually (supplying 7% of UK electricity production or 48% of UK combined heat and power (CHP) production).
  • • Results show existing SRC genotypes have the immediate potential to be an important component of a mixed portfolio of renewables and that, in future, as new and improved genotypes become available, higher yields could extend this potential further.