Predicting Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Soil Carbon from Changing Pasture to an Energy Crop

Benjamin D. Duval, Kristina J. Anderson-Teixeira, Sarah C. Davis, Cindy Keogh, Stephen P. Long, William J. Parton, Evan H. DeLucia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Bioenergy related land use change would likely alter biogeochemical cycles and global greenhouse gas budgets. Energy cane (Saccharum officinarum L.) is a sugarcane variety and an emerging biofuel feedstock for cellulosic bio-ethanol production. It has potential for high yields and can be grown on marginal land, which minimizes competition with grain and vegetable production. The DayCent biogeochemical model was parameterized to infer potential yields of energy cane and how changing land from grazed pasture to energy cane would affect greenhouse gas (CO2, CH4 and N2O) fluxes and soil C pools. The model was used to simulate energy cane production on two soil types in central Florida, nutrient poor Spodosols and organic Histosols. Energy cane was productive on both soil types (yielding 46-76 Mg dry mass{dot operator}ha-1). Yields were maintained through three annual cropping cycles on Histosols but declined with each harvest on Spodosols. Overall, converting pasture to energy cane created a sink for GHGs on Spodosols and reduced the size of the GHG source on Histosols. This change was driven on both soil types by eliminating CH4 emissions from cattle and by the large increase in C uptake by greater biomass production in energy cane relative to pasture. However, the change from pasture to energy cane caused Histosols to lose 4493 g CO2 eq{dot operator}m-2 over 15 years of energy cane production. Cultivation of energy cane on former pasture on Spodosol soils in the southeast US has the potential for high biomass yield and the mitigation of GHG emissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere72019
JournalPloS one
Volume8
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 21 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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