Dual-Cropping Loblolly Pine for Biomass Energy and Conventional Wood Products
Southern pine stands have the potential to provide significant feedstocks for the growing biomass energy and biofuel markets. Although initial feedstocks likely will come from low-value small-diameter trees, understory vegetation, and slash, a sustainable and continuous supply of biomass is necessary to support and grow a wood bioenergy market. As long as solidwood products are more valuable, bioenergy production will not be the primary market for southern pine. A study exploring a dual-cropping system for southern pine bioenergy and solidwood products was begun in 1982 in Louisiana to determine the phosphorus (P) nutritional requirements of the system. Fertilization of 60 kg ha−1 of P was required to produce 90% of the maximum volume at the age of 22 years. Direct-seeding pine in the interrows of a traditional pine plantation produced about 10.2 Mg ha−1 of biomass for energy at the age of 5 years but had no lasting effect on the planted pine height, diameter, or standing volume. The system is a viable method to produce both bioenergy and solidwood products. Herbaceous competition control and nitrogen (N) fertilization likely would make the system even more productive and profitable.
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