, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 123-133

Robinia pseudoacacia L.: A Lesser Known Tree Species for Biomass Production

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Abstract

Experiments with fast-growing tree species for biomass production in Germany have been mainly focused on the growth performance of Populus and Salix spp. Among the lesser-known species for energy plantations is Robinia pseudoacacia L. Special features of this species are its drought tolerance and its ability to fix nitrogen. Given the large share of marginal arable land in NE-Germany and the predicted climate change, R. pseudoacacia is expected to grow in importance. In order to evaluate the growth performance of this species under extreme conditions, four experiments were established in the post-mining landscape of the Lusatian lignite-mining district (NE-Germany). Biomass production was estimated for 3- to 14-year-old shoots on 4- to 14-year-old roots. Results for the annual production of oven-dried biomass of R. pseudoacacia ranged between 3 and 10 t ha−1, which was substantially greater than the biomass of poplar and willow clones established on the same site. Economic analysis results show that the rotation period, the duration of the plantation, and the harvesting costs are important parameters for the economic return and cash flow in short-rotation coppice cultivation. The results show that the cultivation of R. pseudoacacia is an economically competitive land-use strategy for the post-mining landscapes considered in our study.