GCB Bioenergy

Cover image for Vol. 6 Issue 5

Edited By: Steve Long

Impact Factor: 4.248

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2013: 2/78 (Agronomy); 12/82 (Energy & Fuels)

Online ISSN: 1757-1707

Associated Title(s): Global Change Biology

Model for predicting SRC yield and water use efficiency

Model for predicting SRC yield and water use efficiency

Replacing fossil fuels with bioenergy produced from biomass will generally result in increased energy security and independence, as well as ecological benefits. Some of the most promising biomass crops are woody perennial fast-growing trees and shrubs with short rotation coppice (SRC) management. SRC plants are grown for up to 30 years and the aboveground biomass is harvested every 2-5 years. A number of different species have the ability to coppice, or make new growth from the stumps or roots if aboveground biomass is removed, but the principal species currently used for SRC are poplar (Populus spp) and willow (Salix spp.).

One shortcoming of bioenergy production from SRC biomass is that SRC may have a higher water use than traditional crops, grasslands and broadleaf forest. Therefore, a better understanding of water use and water use efficiency is required for these relatively new crops.

Tallis and coauthors developed a model for SRC poplar and willow, ForestGrowth-SRC. In this article, they evaluate the model’s ability to predict SRC yields by comparing modeled values with measured values across diverse sites in the United Kingdom. They also used the model to identify differences between poplar and willow in water use efficiency. Water use was quantified by dividing the amount of biomass produced over a growing season by the amount of rainfall during that time.

The modeled annual aboveground yield of poplar and willow was similar to measured data from seven sites in contrasting climatic zones across the United Kingdom. The authors found that average modeled yields were similar for poplar and willow (10.3 and 9.0 T ha-1 yr-1, respectively). They also found that poplar uses water almost twice as efficiently as willow (9.5 vs. 5.5 g kg-1, respectively). Using regional mapped climate and soil inputs, they were able to create the first UK map of SRC yield from a process-based model.

ForestGrowth-SRC can be used for to predict current and future SRC yields at a regional scale, highlighting important species and genotype choices with respect to water use efficiency and yield potential.

Tallis, M. J., Casella, E., Henshall, P. A., Aylott, M. J., Randle, T. J., Morison, J. I. L. and Taylor, G. (2012), Development and evaluation of Forest Growth-SRC a process-based model for short rotation coppice yield and spatial supply reveals poplar uses water more efficiently than willow. GCB Bioenergy. doi: 10.1111/j.1757-1707.2012.01191.x Read this paper.

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