Perennial biomass crops on marginal land improve both regional climate and agricultural productivity

He, Yufeng and Jaiswal, Deepak and Liang, Xin‐Zhong and Sun, Chao and Long, Stephen P. (2022) Perennial biomass crops on marginal land improve both regional climate and agricultural productivity. GCB Bioenergy, 14 (5). pp. 558-571. ISSN 1757-1693

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Perennial grasses can reduce soil erosion, restore carbon stocks, and provide feedstocks for biofuels and bioproducts. Here, we show an additional benefit, amelioration of regional climate warming, and drying. Growing Miscanthus × giganteus, an example of perennial biomass crops, on US marginal land cools the Midwest Heartland summer by up to 1°C as predicted by a new coupled climate-crop modeling system. This cooling is mainly caused by the increased duration and size of the Miscanthus × giganteus leaf canopy when compared with the existing vegetations on marginal land, resulting in larger solar reflection, more evapotranspiration, and decreased sensible heat transfer. Summer rainfall is increased through mesoscale circulation responses by 23–29 mm (14%–15%) and water vapor pressure deficit reduced by 5%–13%, lowering potential transpiration for all Midwest crops. Similar but weaker effects are simulated in the Southern Heartland. This positive feedback through the climate–crop interaction and teleconnection leads to 4%–8% more biomass production and potentially 12% higher corn and soybean yields, with greater yield stability. Growing perennials on marginal land could be a feasible solution to climate change mitigation and adaptation by strengthening food security and providing sustainable alternatives to fossil-based products.

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Journal Article
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GCB Bioenergy
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04 Apr 2022 14:20
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 11:19