Yield and Water Quality Impacts of Field-Scale Integration of Willow into a Continuous Corn Rotation System
|Title||Yield and Water Quality Impacts of Field-Scale Integration of Willow into a Continuous Corn Rotation System|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2017|
|Authors||Zumpf, C, Ssegane, H, Negri, MC, Campbell, P, Cacho, J|
|Journal||Journal of Environmental Quality|
Agricultural landscape design has gained recognition by the international environmental and development community as a strategy to address multiple goals in land, water, and ecosystem service management; however, field research is needed to quantify impacts on specific local environments. The production of bioenergy crops in specific landscape positions within a grain-crop field can serve the dual purpose of producing cellulosic biomass (nutrient recovery) while also providing regulating ecosystem services to improve water quality (nutrient reduction). The effectiveness of such a landscape design was evaluated by the strategic placement of a 0.8-ha short-rotation shrub willow (Salix miyabeana Seemen) bioenergy buffer along marginal soils in a 6.5-ha corn (Zea mays L.) field in a 6-yr field study in central Illinois. The impact of willow integration on water quality (soil water, shallow groundwater leaching, and crop nutrient uptake) and quantity (soil moisture and transpiration) was monitored in comparison with corn in the willow’s first cycle of growth. Willows significantly reduced nitrate leachate in shallow subsurface water by 88% while maintaining adequate nutrient and water usage. Results suggest that willows offer an efficient nutrient-reduction strategy and may provide additional ecosystem services and benefits, including enhanced soil health. However, low values for calculated willow biomass will need to be readdressed in the future as harvest data become available to understand contributing factors that affected productivity beyond nutrient availability.