Title: Establishing perennial seed-based energy crops on reclaimed surface mine soils in the central Appalachians
Author: Schuler, Jamie L.; Grushecky, Shawn; Wang, Jingxin.;
Source: In: Groninger, John W.; Holzmueller, Eric J.; Nielsen, Clayton K.; Dey, Daniel C., eds. Proceedings, 19th Central Hardwood Forest Conference; 2014 March 10-12; Carbondale, IL. General Technical Report NRS-P-142. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 184-192.
Publication Series: Paper (invited, offered, keynote)
Description: Renewable energy has been at the forefront of the United States' energy policies. Cellulosic feedstocks have received considerable interest in the Appalachian region because of their abundance and availability, but cost competition from other energy sectors has limited their use in the region. Some other bioenergy feedstocks, such as corn and soybeans, are not a viable alternative for most of the region. Though not considered suitable for traditional agricultural crops, a large portion of disturbed mine land in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and eastern Ohio has been reclaimed and planted with perennial grasses. To find an alternative to the more traditional feedstocks, we are exploring the use of perennial seed-based energy crops harvested from trees established on these reclaimed lands. Dunstan hybrid chestnuts (Castanea dentata × Castanea mollissima) and hybrid hazelnuts (Corylus sp.) were planted on a reclaimed surface mine in north-central West Virginia. Individual seedlings were planted with or without composted manure. Soil from the same site was used to study the effects of various combinations of poultry-based biochar, wood-based biochar, and two water sources (rainwater and mine drainage) on the survival and growth of Dunstan chestnut, hybrid hazelnut, and Allegheny chinkapin (Castanea pumila var. pumila) in a greenhouse. We will describe the first-year results of field and greenhouse tests of Dunstan chestnut and Allegheny chinkapin; hybrid hazelnut survival was so low that this species was not further analyzed. Growth and development of chestnut and chinkapin seedlings in the field and greenhouse during the first growing season did not benefit from amendments. Creating a sustainable bioenergy industry based on perennial seed-based crops in the central Appalachian region will depend on the rapid establishment and growth of tree crops over large areas. Results from these studies will help to inform decisions about establishing and maintaining these crops.
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Schuler, Jamie L.; Grushecky, Shawn; Wang, Jingxin. 2014. Establishing perennial seed-based energy crops on reclaimed surface mine soils in the central Appalachians. In: Groninger, John W.; Holzmueller, Eric J.; Nielsen, Clayton K.; Dey, Daniel C., eds. Proceedings, 19th Central Hardwood Forest Conference; 2014 March 10-12; Carbondale, IL. General Technical Report NRS-P-142. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 184-192.
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