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Title: Environmental effects of short-rotation woody crops for bioenergy: What is and isn’t known

Logging and mill residues are currently the largest sources of woody biomass for bioenergy in the United States, but short-rotation woody crops (SRWCs) are expected to become a larger contributor to biomass production, primarily on lands marginal for food production. However, there are very few studies on the environmental effects of SRWCs, and most have been conducted at stand rather than at watershed scales. In this manuscript, we review the potential environmental effects of SRWCs relative to current forestry or agricultural practices and best management practices (BMPs) in the southeast United States and identify priorities and constraints for monitoring and modeling these effects. Plot-scale field studies and a watershed-scale modeling study found improved water quality with SRWCs compared to agricultural crops. Further, a recent watershed-scale experiment suggests that conventional forestry BMPs are sufficient to protect water quality from SRWC silvicultural activities, but the duration of these studies is short with respect to travel times of groundwater transporting nitrate to streams. While the effects of SRWC production on carbon (C) and water budgets depend on both soil properties and previous land management, woody crops will typically sequester more C when compared with agricultural crops. The overall C offset by SRWCs willmore » depend on a variety of management practices, the number of rotations, and climate. Effects of SRWCs on biodiversity, especially aquatic organisms, are not well studied, but a meta-analysis found that bird and mammal biodiversity is lower in SRWC stands than unmanaged forests. Long-term (i.e., over multiple rotations) water quality, water use, C dynamics, and soil quality studies are needed, as are larger-scale (i.e., landscape scale) biodiversity studies, to evaluate the potential effects of SRWC production. Such research should couple field measurement and modeling approaches due to the temporal (i.e., multiple rotations) and spatial (i.e., heterogeneous landscape) scaling issues involved with SRWC production.« less
Authors:
ORCiD logo [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [6] ;  [6] ;  [7] ; ORCiD logo [7]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Climate Change Science Institute and Environmental Sciences Division
  2. Savannah River Forestry Sciences Lab, Aiken, SC (United States). USDA Forest Service
  3. Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, OR (United States). Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering
  4. Univ. of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL (United States). Department of Biological Sciences
  5. USDA ARS, Southwest Watershed Research Center, Tucson, AZ (United States)
  6. University of Georgia, Aiken, SC (United States). Savannah River Ecology Laboratory; Univ. of Georgia, Athens, GA (United States). Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources
  7. Univ. of Georgia, Athens, GA (United States). Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
AC05-00OR22725; EM0004391
Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Global Change Biology. Bioenergy
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Global Change Biology. Bioenergy; Journal ID: ISSN 1757-1693
Publisher:
Wiley
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Bioenergy Technologies Office (EE-3B)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; aquatic macroinvertebrates; best management practices; bioenergy; carbon/water tradeoffs; hydrologic modeling; soil organic carbon; southeastern United States; terrestrial biodiversity; water quality; woody feedstocks
OSTI Identifier:
1462776
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1462781; OSTI ID: 1474646

Griffiths, Natalie A., Rau, Benjamin M., Vaché, Kellie B., Starr, Gregory, Bitew, Menberu M., Aubrey, Doug P., Martin, James A., Benton, Elizabeth, and Jackson, C. Rhett. Environmental effects of short-rotation woody crops for bioenergy: What is and isn’t known. United States: N. p., Web. doi:10.1111/gcbb.12536.
Griffiths, Natalie A., Rau, Benjamin M., Vaché, Kellie B., Starr, Gregory, Bitew, Menberu M., Aubrey, Doug P., Martin, James A., Benton, Elizabeth, & Jackson, C. Rhett. Environmental effects of short-rotation woody crops for bioenergy: What is and isn’t known. United States. doi:10.1111/gcbb.12536.
Griffiths, Natalie A., Rau, Benjamin M., Vaché, Kellie B., Starr, Gregory, Bitew, Menberu M., Aubrey, Doug P., Martin, James A., Benton, Elizabeth, and Jackson, C. Rhett. 2018. "Environmental effects of short-rotation woody crops for bioenergy: What is and isn’t known". United States. doi:10.1111/gcbb.12536.
@article{osti_1462776,
title = {Environmental effects of short-rotation woody crops for bioenergy: What is and isn’t known},
author = {Griffiths, Natalie A. and Rau, Benjamin M. and Vaché, Kellie B. and Starr, Gregory and Bitew, Menberu M. and Aubrey, Doug P. and Martin, James A. and Benton, Elizabeth and Jackson, C. Rhett},
abstractNote = {Logging and mill residues are currently the largest sources of woody biomass for bioenergy in the United States, but short-rotation woody crops (SRWCs) are expected to become a larger contributor to biomass production, primarily on lands marginal for food production. However, there are very few studies on the environmental effects of SRWCs, and most have been conducted at stand rather than at watershed scales. In this manuscript, we review the potential environmental effects of SRWCs relative to current forestry or agricultural practices and best management practices (BMPs) in the southeast United States and identify priorities and constraints for monitoring and modeling these effects. Plot-scale field studies and a watershed-scale modeling study found improved water quality with SRWCs compared to agricultural crops. Further, a recent watershed-scale experiment suggests that conventional forestry BMPs are sufficient to protect water quality from SRWC silvicultural activities, but the duration of these studies is short with respect to travel times of groundwater transporting nitrate to streams. While the effects of SRWC production on carbon (C) and water budgets depend on both soil properties and previous land management, woody crops will typically sequester more C when compared with agricultural crops. The overall C offset by SRWCs will depend on a variety of management practices, the number of rotations, and climate. Effects of SRWCs on biodiversity, especially aquatic organisms, are not well studied, but a meta-analysis found that bird and mammal biodiversity is lower in SRWC stands than unmanaged forests. Long-term (i.e., over multiple rotations) water quality, water use, C dynamics, and soil quality studies are needed, as are larger-scale (i.e., landscape scale) biodiversity studies, to evaluate the potential effects of SRWC production. Such research should couple field measurement and modeling approaches due to the temporal (i.e., multiple rotations) and spatial (i.e., heterogeneous landscape) scaling issues involved with SRWC production.},
doi = {10.1111/gcbb.12536},
journal = {Global Change Biology. Bioenergy},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {7}
}