Different life-form strategies of perennial energy crops and related nutrient exports require a differentiating view specifically concerning a sustainable cultivation on marginal land

  • Perennial energy crops (PECs) are increasingly used as feedstock to produce energy in an environmental friendly way. Compared to traditional conversion strategies like thermal use, sophisticated technologies such as biomethanation defined different re-quirements of the feedstock. Whereas the first concept relies on dry, woody mate-rial, biomethanation requires a moist feedstock. Thus, over time, the spectrum of species used as PECs has widened. Moreover, harvest dates were adjusted to pro-vide the feedstock at suitable moisture contents. It is well known that perennial, lignocellulose- based energy crops, compared to annual, sugar- and starch- based ones, offer ecological advantages such as, inter alia, improving biodiversity in landscape, protecting soil against erosion, and protecting groundwater from nutrient inputs. However, one of the main arguments for PEC cultivation was their undemanding nature concerning external inputs. With respect to the broader spectrum of PEC spe-cies and changed harvest dates, the question arises whether the concept of PECs being low- input energy crops is still valid. This also implies the question of suitable grow-ing conditions and sustainable management. The aims of this opinion paper were to classify different PECs according to their life- form strategy, compare nutrient exports when harvested in different maturation stages, and to discuss the results in the context of sustainable PEC cultivation on marginal land. This study revealed that nutrient exports with yield biomass of PECs harvested in green state are in the same range than those of annual energy crops and therewith several times higher than those of PECs harvested in brown state or of woody short rotation coppices. Thus, PECs can-not universally be claimed as low- input energy crops. These results also imply the consequences of cultivation of PECs on marginal land. Finally, the question has to be raised whether the term PECs should prospectively be better specified in written and spoken words.
Author:Thorsten Ruf, Christoph Emmerling
Parent Title (English):GCB Bioenergy
Place of publication:Hoboken
Document Type:Contribution to a Periodical
Date of completion:2021/03/28
Date of publication:2021/03/28
Publishing institution:Universität Trier
Contributing corporation:The publication was funded by the Open Access Fund of Universität Trier and the German Research Foundation (DFG)
Release Date:2022/02/23
Tag:harvest dates; nutrient demands; nutrient exports; premature harvest; utilization pathways
GND Keyword:Ausdauernde Pflanzen; Energiepflanzen; Ernte; Nährstoffverlust
Volume (for the year ...):2021
Issue / no.:Band 13
Number of pages:12
First page:893
Last page:904
Institutes:Fachbereich 6
Dewey Decimal Classification:9 Geschichte und Geografie / 91 Geografie, Reisen / 910 Geografie, Reisen
Licence (German):License LogoCC BY: Creative-Commons-Lizenz 4.0 International

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