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Andrew Leakey's Laboratory

EBI 2011: Sustainability of woody biofuel feedstocks


PI: Andrew Leakey (UIUC)

Funding Source: EBI $602K

Woody biofuels currently constitute of global biofuel production. Short-rotation coppice forestry can produce high yields and possess a number of advantages that make it an attractive option for second-generation bioenergy production. However, there are a number of uncertainties that remain about the sustainability of coppice forestry and its impact on ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration and water cycling. In this project we propose to perform a three-year field study to estimate the fluxes and pools of the carbon and water cycles for poplar, willow, and pine in order to support ongoing modeling efforts and life-cycle analyses. This study follows up on previous research at the EBI Energy Farm's woody feedstocks trials, complements a number of ongoing research efforts by EBI, and directly addresses the data needs identified in the EBI-sponsored workshop “Harvesting Carbon from Eastern US Forests.”

As part of the proposed research we plan to establish study plots within three existing forestry research sites in Wisconsin (poplar), New York (willow) and North Carolina (loblolly pine). In each case we will synthesis any available existing data and collect new data on: (a) key parameters that have been identified through sensitivity analysis to contribute greatest uncertainty in current model simulations of C and water cycling by woody feedstocks; and (b) ecosystem scale properties necessary for validation of model performance. These include: tree growth and survival, photosynthetic responses, tissue chemistry, stable isotopes (water use efficiency), soil respiration, stem sapflux, soil moisture, root distribution and turnover, stomatal regulation, and nonstructural carbohydrate reserves. The pine site will be co-located with an existing Ameriflux tower and thus we will not make sapflux measurement at that site. These measurements will serve as critical data constraints on regional-scale woody biofuel modeling being conducted by the EBI Modeling team.