Dr. Michelle Wander
Associate Professor of Soil Fertility/Ecology
N-225 Turner Hall
1102 South Goodwin Avenue
Our objectives are: 1) to quantify the short term influence of biomass crop production on labile and total organic C contents of the top 1 m depth of Illinois soils and 2) to measure and account for the total global warming potential of biomass-crop and row crop production system by collecting green house gas emissions from paired fields and evaluating the energy embodied in machinery and inputs. Sites being seeded to miscanthus and switchgrass were sampled at the beginning of the study down to 1m and will be sampled again at the end of the project. Total and particulate organic matter (POM) C and N contents will be quantified. Efforts to quantify greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions began at the Urbana site in 2005. Emission rates of N2O and CO2, soil temperature, soil water, content, bulk density, and available N contents were measured. We found that biomass crops have value as a GHG emissions offset strategy during their establishment phase. Trends in POM concentrations show that establishment of the grasses by planting rhizomes or seed did not reduce SOC. By year 4, Miscanthus had achieved sequestration rates of 0.30 t/ha/yr, and switchgrass of 0.19 t/ha/yr, respectively. Using accepted assumptions to estimate global warming potential (GWP in g CO2 m-2 yr-1) we found that the row crop system had GWP of 111 compared to values of 50 and -43 in the miscanthus and switchgrass systems, respectively.