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Wednesday, April 11 • 4:15pm - 4:30pm
TRADEOFFS IN ENERGY PRODUCTION: Ecosystem Service Provision by Shrub Willows in an Illinois Agricultural Landscape

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AUTHORS: Colleen Zumpf*, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Argonne National Laboratory; M. Cristina Negri, Argonne National Laboratory; D.K. Lee, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Jules Cacho, Patty Campbell, John Quinn – Argonne National Laboratory

ABSTRACT: In the interest of converting from a fossil fuel based energy system to renewable sources, sustainability in energy production is an important goal. The application of perennial bioenergy crop production in multifunctional landscapes can serve both the purpose of producing biomass feedstock for bioenergy as well as providing ecosystem services including reduction in greenhouse gases and nutrient loss, soil health improvement, and habitat provision for beneficial species. Short-rotation shrub willow grown as buffers on marginal land in an agricultural field was evaluated over four years of growth. After the first harvest cycle, harvestable biomass from marginal land was comparable to production on non-marginal land at 5.6 Mg ha-1 yr-1, however, future work will be focused on how plant density affects willow productivity across soil conditions. In terms of ecosystem service provision, the strategic placement of willow within the agricultural landscape reduced nitrate leaching from the neighboring grain crop by 74% by year three. Nitrate concentrations in soil under willow were lower than under the grain crop, as were emissions of nitrous oxide from soil respiration, suggesting willows were successfully removing reactive nitrogen from the soil. In addition, subsurface soil organic carbon was found to increase under willow as compared to under the grain crop which suggests improvement in subsurface soil conditions. Biodiversity was also found to be improved by willow introduction. At the soil microbial level, differences in community composition were already apparent one year after willow planting. In addition, assessment of canopy-dwelling insects present four years after willow establishment, revealed a wide diversity of pollinators and beneficial pest control species, potentially indicating the positive benefits willow introduction has on biodiversity. As the willow stands mature and crop management practices change, the effect of willow on ecosystem service provisions will continue to be monitored to determine whether these trends continue.

Wednesday April 11, 2018 4:15pm - 4:30pm CDT
LaSalle 2 (7th Floor)