Journal article Open Access

Biomass Yield of Selected Herbaceous and Woody Industrial Crops across Marginal Agricultural Sites with Shallow Soil

Reinhardt, Jana; Hilgert, Pia; von Cossel, Moritz

Agricultural land in Europe is affected by low rooting depth (LRD) on 27.9 Mha. This marginal agricultural land can potentially be used to grow industrial crops without directly threatening food security or biodiversity conservation. However, little is known about the yield performance of industrial crops at LRD conditions. This study therefore compiles and discusses the meaningful data available in scientific literature. Twelve relevant industrial crops were identified for Europe. Currently, robust information on good growth suitability for LRD conditions is available for only one industrial crop, namely reed canary grass (RCG). Because this information was taken from field trial results from a single site, it remains unclear what role other growing conditions such as soil quality and climate play on both the yield level and the biomass quality of RCG under LRD conditions. These uncertainties about the quantitative as well as qualitative performance of industrial crop cultivation on marginal agricultural land characterized by LRD represent a major agronomic knowledge gap. Here, more knowledge needs to be compiled through both expanded crop science activities and improved international information exchange to make more optimal use of the large LRD areas available for the transition to a bioeconomy.

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