Optimizing the bioenergy water footprint by selecting SRC willow canopy phenotypes: regional scenario simulations

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Richard, B., Richter, G. M., Cerasuolo, M. and Shield, I. F. 2019. Optimizing the bioenergy water footprint by selecting SRC willow canopy phenotypes: regional scenario simulations. Annals of Botany. 124 (4), pp. 531-542. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcz006

AuthorsRichard, B., Richter, G. M., Cerasuolo, M. and Shield, I. F.

•Background and Aims
Bioenergy is central for the future energy mix to mitigate climate change impacts; however, its intricate link with the water cycle calls for an evaluation of the Carbon-Water nexus in biomass production. The great challenge is to optimise trade-offs between carbon harvest and water use by choosing cultivars which combine low water use with a high productivity.
Regional scenarios were simulated over a range of willow “genotype × environment” interactions for the major UK soil x climate variations with the process-based model LUCASS. Soil available water capacity (SAWC) ranged from 51 to 251 mm and weather represented the North-West (wet-cool), North-East (dry-cool), South-West (wet-warm) and South-East (dry warm) of the UK. Scenario simulations were evaluated for small/open narrow-leaf (NL) versus large/closed broad-leaf (BL) willow canopy phenotypes using “Baseline” (1965-89) and warmer “Recent” (1990-2014) weather data.
•Key Results
The low productivity under “Baseline” climate in the North could be compensated by choosing BL cultivars (e.g. ‘Endurance’). “Recent” warmer climate increased average productivity by 0.5 to 2.5 t ha-1, especially in the North. The modern NL cultivar ‘Resolution’ had the smallest and most efficient water use. On marginal soils (SAWC <100 mm), yields remained below an economic threshold of 9 t ha-1 more frequently under “Baseline” than “Recent” climate. In the drought-prone South-East, ‘Endurance’ yielded lower than ‘Resolution’, which consumed on average 17 mm yr-1 less water. Assuming a planting area of 10,000 ha, in droughty years between 1.3 to 4.5 ˟ 106 m3 of water could be saved with a small yield penalty for ‘Resolution’.
With an increase of air temperature and occasional water scarcities expected with climate change, high yielding NL cultivars should be the preferred choice for sustainable use of marginal lands and reduced competition with agricultural food crops.

KeywordsBioenergy; Canopy type; Climate change; Evapotranspiration; LUCASS-model; Marginal soils; Water use efficiency; Woody biomass
Year of Publication2019
JournalAnnals of Botany
Journal citation124 (4), pp. 531-542
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcz006
PubMed ID30759181
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Natural Environment Research Council
Funder project or codeASSIST - Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems
S2N - Soil to Nutrition - Work package 3 (WP3) - Sustainable intensification - optimisation at multiple scales
S2N - Soil to Nutrition [ISPG]
Bioenergy value chains: Whole systems analysis and optimisation
Publisher's version
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Accepted author manuscript
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Supplemental file
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Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online13 Feb 2019
Publication process dates
Accepted23 Jan 2019
PublisherOxford University Press (OUP)

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