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Journal Article

Cultivation of a perennial grass for bioenergy on a boreal organic soil - carbon sink or source?


Reichstein,  M.
Research Group Biogeochemical Model-data Integration, Dr. M. Reichstein, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Shurpali, N. J., Hyvonen, N. P., Huttunen, J. T., Clement, R. J., Reichstein, M., Nykanen, H., et al. (2009). Cultivation of a perennial grass for bioenergy on a boreal organic soil - carbon sink or source? GCB Bioenergy, 1(1), 35-50. doi:10.1111/j.1757-1707.2009.01003.x.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000E-D8F7-5
The area under the cultivation of perennial bioenergy crops on organic soils in the northern countries is fast increasing. To understand the impact of reed canary grass (RCG, Phalaris arundinaceae L.) cultivation on the carbon dioxide (CO2) balance of an organic soil, net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE) was measured for four years in a RCG cultivated cutover peatland in eastern Finland using the eddy covariance technique. There were striking differences among the years in the annual precipitation. The annual precipitation was higher during 2004 and 2007 and lower during 2005 and 2006 than the 1971-2000 regional mean. During wet growing seasons, moderate temperatures, high surface soil moisture and low evaporative demand favoured high CO2 uptake. During dry seasons, owing to soil moisture and atmospheric stress, photosynthetic activity was severely restricted. The CO2 uptake [gross primary productivity (GPP)] was positively correlated with soil moisture, air temperature and inversely with vapour pressure deficit. Total ecosystem respiration (TER) increased with increasing soil temperature but decreased with increasing soil moisture. The relative responses of GPP and TER to moisture stress were different. While changes in TER for a given change in soil moisture were moderate, variations in GPP were drastic. Also, the seasonal variations in TER were not as conspicuous as those in GPP implying that GPP is the primary regulator of the interannual variability in NEE in this ecosystem. The ecosystem accumulated a total of 398 g Cm-2 from the beginning of 2004 until the end of 2007. It retained some carbon during a wet year such as 2004 even after accounting for the loss of carbon in the form of harvested biomass. Based on this CO2 balance analysis, RCG cultivation is found to be a promising after-use option on an organic soil.