Wind speed reductions as influenced by woody hedgerows grown for biomass in short rotation alley cropping systems in Germany
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The cultivation of fast growing trees on agricultural sites is an area undergoing a growth in interest due to the rising demand for woody biomass as a source of bioenergy. Short rotation alley cropping systems (SRACS) represent a promising possibility to combine annual crops for food, fodder or bioenergy with woody plants for biomass production, doing so through an integration of hedgerows of fast growing trees into conventional agricultural sites. Against such developments, the question has arisen as to what extent hedgerows in SRACS can act as an effective windbreak despite their management-related low height of only a few meters. On the basis of multiannual recorded wind velocity data in high resolution at two sites in Germany, it could be shown that the wind speed on crop alleys was reduced significantly by such hedgerows. At the central point of 24 m wide crop alleys, the wind speed decreased on an annual average basis by more than 50 % when compared to the wind speeds of open field. The overall amount of reduction was strongly dependent on the location within the crop alleys, the height of trees, the distance between two hedgerows, and their orientation. In reflection upon these results, it was concluded that the establishment of SRACS could lead to enhanced soil protection against wind erosion and thus to ecological and economic benefits for agricultural sites.
KeywordsAlley cropping Bioenergy Shelterbelt Short rotation Windbreak Wind speed
The authors wish to thank the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (Project “AgroForstEnergie II”, Project Number: 22000312), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Project “INKA BB”, Project Number: 01LR0803D) and the Vattenfall Europe New Energy Ltd. for their financial support.
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