Measured and modelled carbon and water fluxes in hybrid willows grown for biofuel production

Friday, 19 December 2014
Timothy Michael Wertin1, David LeBauer1, Timothy Volk2, Stephen Long3 and Andrew DB Leakey1,3, (1)University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Institute for Genomic Biology, Urbana, IL, United States, (2)SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY, United States, (3)University of Illinois, Department of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences, Urbana, IL, United States
Biofuels have the potential to meet future energy needs. Worldwide, up to 75% of biofuels produced are derived from woody sources. Coppiced hybrid willow is among the most promising woody biofuel sources due to its ability to rapidly regenerate after cutting, high biomass yields, low nutrient requirements and ability to be grown on marginal land, abandoned land and land easily erodible under annual cultivation. However, models used to assess the potential viability and sustainability of commercial biomass production by willow in the northeastern, northern and northwestern USA remain unsophisticated and lack key parameterization data. Most significantly, models do not explicitly represent the coppiced growth form. This study tests the ability of a canopy model to predict carbon and water fluxes in two highly productive, but structurally distinct hybrid willows (Salix miyabeana and Salix purpurea) grown in central NY. S. miyaneana has only a few, large diameter stems per stool prior to harvest, while S. purpurea maintains numerous, small diameter stems until harvest. Canopy structure also varies substantially within a growing season. For example, in S. miyabeana stem number decreased by 40% while total basal area increased by 50% within year 2 of the third coppice cycle. Model predictions of water use are compared with stand transpiration measured by sap flow. Model predictions of biomass production are compared to destructive harvest data. Sensitivity of predicted fluxes to variation between genotypes in key physiological parameters is also tested.