The effect of irrigation and fertilization on willow productivity
Van Rees, K.C.J.
Purpose-grown shrub willow (Salix spp.) represents a viable bioenergy feedstock, especially if these plantations can be successfully grown on unproductive land that is marginal for annual crop production. The objective of this study is to determine the effect of irrigation and fertilization on willow biomass feedstock quantity, as well as its quality, in order to meet specific bioenergy conversion industry requirements. A split-split-plot experimental design is being used on a Sutherland clay soil in Saskatoon, SK and consists of two clones (SV1 and Charlie), three irrigation treatments (no irrigation, 75%, and 100% field capacity), and three fertilization treatments (no fertilizer, 1x, and 2x recommended fertilizer rate). For both willow clones, after two years there was a highly significant (P values < 0.0001) growth response to irrigation, with no significant (P values > 0.05) effects of fertilization or irrigation x fertilization except for the 2x recommended fertilizer rate at 100% field capacity with the clone SV1. The positive willow growth response to irrigation is indicative of the importance of soil moisture within the semi-arid climate of Saskatchewan. The lack of fertilizer effect reflects the relatively fertile soil at the site and the low fertilizer use efficiency of broadcasted fertilizer within these agroforestry systems.
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