Location: Soil, Water & Air Resources Research2012 Annual Report
1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
The objectives of this project are: 1) use stable carbon isotope analysis to determine the soil carbon sequestration potential of tree planting on marginal or degraded agricultural soils across climatic gradients in the U.S. Great Plains and Russian Central Uplands; 2) quantify the bioenergy potential of the aboveground woody biomass of these plantings for direct combustion, cellulose to ethanol conversion, or pyrolysis to bio-oils; and 3) apply the results of 1) and 2) to estimate the carbon sequestration and bioenergy potential of these systems in both study regions through renovation of existing plantings or new plantings.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Sites will be identified in the U.S. Great Plains and Russian Central Uplands where trees have been planted on former agricultural lands. Soil samples will be collected in transects across the tree row and, with tree tissue samples and undisturbed soil samples from native vegetation, will be analyzed using stable carbon isotope analysis. This approach will quantify changes in soil carbon beneath the trees and identify what proportion of the carbon was derived from the trees. Tree height and diameter measurements will be used to estimate the energy equivalent of the standing woody biomass. Using GIS and modeling techniques, the results of the field studies will be extrapolated to the regional scale to estimate the bionergy and carbon sequestration potential of tree planting on marginal agricultural lands.
3. Progress Report:
This project is under National Program 212 Climate Change, Soils and Emissions as it relates to feedstock production for bioenergy and the associated impacts on soil carbon (C) storage. The focus of this research is assessing woody biomass production and soil organic carbon storage in windbreaks planted in the Central Russian Uplands and the U.S. Great Plains. This project relates to the Maintain and Enhance Soil Resources priority area of NP212. The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 established a Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandating that 136 billion liters of biofuels are to be produced annually in the U.S. by 2022. Of that amount, 60.5 billion liters (44.4%) are to be produced from cellulosic feedstocks. Achieving the target level of cellulosic biofuel production, while maintaining sustainable food production and food security on U.S. agricultural lands, presents a daunting challenge. Energy from biomass is an attractive climate change mitigation strategy as, unlike fossil fuels, energy derived from biomass recycles carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere into fuel and may sequester additional C in the soil and/or reduce greenhouse gas production providing additional mitigation benefits. There are extensive tree windbreak plantings already in both the steppes of Russia and in the U.S. Great Plains, which have a significant C sequestration potential. Windbreaks represent an attractive multiple-benefit land use through their capacity to improve crop growth and mitigate climate change by modifying the local microclimate, sequester C in the soil and above- and below-ground biomass, and provide a renewable source of feedstock (biomass) for bioenergy production. The objectives of this project are to 1) use stable C isotope analysis to determine the soil C sequestration potential of tree planting on marginal or degraded agricultural soils across climatic gradients in the U.S. Great Plains and Russian Central Uplands, 2) quantify the C sequestration and bioenergy potential of the aboveground woody biomass of these plantings for direct combustion, cellulose to ethanol conversion, or pyrolysis to bio-oils, and 3) to apply the results of 1) and 2) to use models and spatial analyses to estimate the C sequestration and bioenergy potential of these systems at the regional scale through renovation of existing plantings or establishing new plantings. In FY2011 soil and plant tissue samples for the C isotope analysis were collected at three locations in Russia (October 2011) and three locations in the U.S. (May 2012). These samples are currently being processed and associated soil properties (pH, particle size distribution, salinity, and nutrient status) determined.