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Land-use change to bioenergy: grassland to short rotation coppice willow has an improved carbon balance

Land-use change to bioenergy: grassland to short rotation coppice willow has an improved carbon balance
Land-use change to bioenergy: grassland to short rotation coppice willow has an improved carbon balance
The effect of a transition from grassland to second-generation (2G) bioenergy on soil carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) balance is uncertain, with limited empirical data on which to validate landscape-scale models, sustainability criteria and energy policies. Here, we quantified soil carbon, soil GHG emissions and whole ecosystem carbon balance for short rotation coppice (SRC) bioenergy willow and a paired grassland site, both planted at commercial scale. We quantified the carbon balance for a 2-year period and captured the effects of a commercial harvest in the SRC willow at the end of the first cycle. Soil fluxes of nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) did not contribute significantly to the GHG balance of these land uses. Soil respiration was lower in SRC willow (912 ± 42 g C m?2 yr?1) than in grassland (1522 ± 39 g C m?2 yr?1). Net ecosystem exchange (NEE) reflected this with the grassland a net source of carbon with mean NEE of 119 ± 10 g C m?2 yr?1 and SRC willow a net sink, ?620 ± 18 g C m?2 yr?1. When carbon removed from the ecosystem in harvested products was considered (Net Biome Productivity), SRC willow remained a net sink (221 ± 66 g C m?2 yr?1). Despite the SRC willow site being a net sink for carbon, soil carbon stocks (0–30 cm) were higher under the grassland. There was a larger NEE and increase in ecosystem respiration in the SRC willow after harvest; however, the site still remained a carbon sink. Our results indicate that once established, significant carbon savings are likely in SRC willow compared with the minimally managed grassland at this site. Although these observed impacts may be site and management dependent, they provide evidence that land-use transition to 2G bioenergy has potential to provide a significant improvement on the ecosystem service of climate regulation relative to grassland systems.
1757-1693
1-16
Harris, Zoe
536d8906-e68a-4f2e-b920-1c4294c7e97b
Alberti, Giorgio
87270fd2-30ab-4153-8f80-d1f63184c798
Viger, Maud
3f2de523-4a9f-44da-9f60-73d6cbc3edba
Jenkins, Joseph
4b73fa5c-7799-4f52-ac5f-f4534bbefc73
Rowe, Rebecca
82078780-059a-4a05-83a9-d636a9939eea
McNamara, Niall
54967c66-11c2-4275-9539-ac21c8e987fa
Taylor, Gail
f3851db9-d37c-4c36-8663-e5c2cb03e171
Harris, Zoe
536d8906-e68a-4f2e-b920-1c4294c7e97b
Alberti, Giorgio
87270fd2-30ab-4153-8f80-d1f63184c798
Viger, Maud
3f2de523-4a9f-44da-9f60-73d6cbc3edba
Jenkins, Joseph
4b73fa5c-7799-4f52-ac5f-f4534bbefc73
Rowe, Rebecca
82078780-059a-4a05-83a9-d636a9939eea
McNamara, Niall
54967c66-11c2-4275-9539-ac21c8e987fa
Taylor, Gail
f3851db9-d37c-4c36-8663-e5c2cb03e171

Harris, Zoe, Alberti, Giorgio, Viger, Maud, Jenkins, Joseph, Rowe, Rebecca, McNamara, Niall and Taylor, Gail (2016) Land-use change to bioenergy: grassland to short rotation coppice willow has an improved carbon balance. GCB Bioenergy, 1-16. (doi:10.1111/gcbb.12347).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The effect of a transition from grassland to second-generation (2G) bioenergy on soil carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) balance is uncertain, with limited empirical data on which to validate landscape-scale models, sustainability criteria and energy policies. Here, we quantified soil carbon, soil GHG emissions and whole ecosystem carbon balance for short rotation coppice (SRC) bioenergy willow and a paired grassland site, both planted at commercial scale. We quantified the carbon balance for a 2-year period and captured the effects of a commercial harvest in the SRC willow at the end of the first cycle. Soil fluxes of nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) did not contribute significantly to the GHG balance of these land uses. Soil respiration was lower in SRC willow (912 ± 42 g C m?2 yr?1) than in grassland (1522 ± 39 g C m?2 yr?1). Net ecosystem exchange (NEE) reflected this with the grassland a net source of carbon with mean NEE of 119 ± 10 g C m?2 yr?1 and SRC willow a net sink, ?620 ± 18 g C m?2 yr?1. When carbon removed from the ecosystem in harvested products was considered (Net Biome Productivity), SRC willow remained a net sink (221 ± 66 g C m?2 yr?1). Despite the SRC willow site being a net sink for carbon, soil carbon stocks (0–30 cm) were higher under the grassland. There was a larger NEE and increase in ecosystem respiration in the SRC willow after harvest; however, the site still remained a carbon sink. Our results indicate that once established, significant carbon savings are likely in SRC willow compared with the minimally managed grassland at this site. Although these observed impacts may be site and management dependent, they provide evidence that land-use transition to 2G bioenergy has potential to provide a significant improvement on the ecosystem service of climate regulation relative to grassland systems.

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Submitted date: 10 June 2015
Accepted/In Press date: 26 January 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 24 April 2016
Organisations: Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 395455
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/395455
ISSN: 1757-1693
PURE UUID: 865797e8-7ff1-49cb-9b91-0efa18989ca8
ORCID for Gail Taylor: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-8470-6390

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Date deposited: 26 May 2016 10:28
Last modified: 01 Apr 2020 00:27

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Contributors

Author: Zoe Harris
Author: Giorgio Alberti
Author: Maud Viger
Author: Joseph Jenkins
Author: Rebecca Rowe
Author: Niall McNamara
Author: Gail Taylor ORCID iD

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