U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Coupling of Carbon and Nitrogen Cycles Critical for Biomass Sustainability
Published: September 29, 2011
Posted: February 23, 2012

A multi-component plant-soil biogeochemical model for the herbaceous energy crop switchgrass was developed and evaluated using data from a long-term bioenergy plantation in the southeastern United States. DOE scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory used the model to simulate biomass production, nitrogen dynamics, and carbon sequestration in soils beneath switchgrass over a 30-year period, revealing a strong coupling of carbon and nitrogen dynamics, both above- and below-ground. The lead scientist concluded that the extent to which biogeochemical cycles are coupled is a critical determinant of sustainability in systems where biomass growth and removal occurs annually. More efficient use of nitrogen in the production of biomass deserves further investigation. Based on model simulations, researchers believe that reductions in nitrogen fertilization are possible given rates of organic matter decomposition and soil nitrogen mineralization. Overall, the model simulations reveal a suite of feedbacks and tradeoffs in the production of feedstock for transportation fuels, but the author suggests that long-term production and removal of biomass from switchgrass fields for transportation fuels is possible.

Reference: Garten, C.T., Jr. 2011. "Review and Model-Based Analysis of Factors Influencing Soil Carbon Sequestration Beneath Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)," BioEnergy Research, DOI: 10.1007/s112155-011-9154-2. (Reference link)

Contact: Mike Kuperberg, SC-23.1, (301) 903-3281, Daniel Stover, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0289
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Terrestrial Ecosystem Science
  • Research Area: Carbon Cycle, Nutrient Cycling
  • Research Area: Plant Systems and Feedstocks, Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • Research Area: Sustainable Biofuels and Bioproducts

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]

May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]

May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]

May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]

Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)