Plant and Soil

, Volume 360, Issue 1–2, pp 299–318 | Cite as

Soil carbon sequestration potential of willows in short-rotation coppice established on abandoned farm lands

  • Jérémie Lockwell
  • Werther Guidi
  • Michel LabrecqueEmail author
Regular Article



We carried out a paired-site study (Melanic Brunisol) to assess the impact on soil carbon stocks of land-use change following establishment and multiple rotations of willows (Salix miyabeana SX67) in short-rotation coppice (SRWC).


Total soil organic carbon (TSOC), hot-water extractable carbon (HWC) and amino sugars (AS) were used as main parameters of soil carbon dynamic.


We found that the establishment event and 2 years of growth under SRWC did not result in any change in the TSOC pool or in the HWC pool. However, we found an increase in AS at and near the soil surface (0–20 cm) of the establishing willow plantations. We related this to the effect of the green manure applied before planting. After multiple rotations of SRWC, we found a redistribution of TSOC in the vertical profile (0–40 cm) but no TSOC difference compared to previous land-use (abandoned alfalfa crop). In the subsoil (20–40 cm), we found indications that the more labile soil organic carbon (SOC) pools were depleted (HWC and muramic acid).


Willow plantations on Melanic Brunisol in southern Quebec (Canada) represent, over the long-term, a soil carbon sink when replacing a short-term no-till crop rotation. However, the conversion from abandoned alfalfa fields into SRWC does not apparently enhance soil carbon potential sequestration.


Salix Cropping systems C sequestration Alfalfa SRWC Carbon sink 



Soil organic carbon


Soil organic matter


Total soil organic carbon


Hot-water extractable carbon


Amino sugars


Short-rotation willow coppice



We would like to thank Martin Chantigny of the Soils and Crops Research and Development Centre in Quebec for assistance with data collection and analysis. Special thanks also to Marc Lucotte of the University of Quebec in Montreal and Marie-Claude Turmel of the University of Montreal for their help with soil analysis. This study was financially supported by the Canadian Federal Interdepartmental Program on Energy Research and Development (PERD). Thanks to the technical staff of the Boisbriand experimental farm (CERVEAU) and to Huntingdon land owner, Rolland Guillon. Thanks to Karen Grislis for her critical review of the manuscript. Finally, we are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for providing many helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper.


  1. Amelung W, Miltner A, Zhang XD, Zech W (2001) Fate of microbial residues during litter decomposition as affected by minerals. Soil Sci 166:598–606CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aronsson P, Perttu K (2001) Willow vegetation filters for wastewater treatment and soil remediation combined with biomass production. For Chron 77(2):293–299Google Scholar
  3. Baum C, Toljander Y, Eckhardt K-U, Weih M (2009) The significance of host-fungus combinations in ectomycorrhizal symbioses for the chemical quality of willow foliage. Plant Soil 323:213–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bethlenfalvay GJ, Andrade G, Azco’n-Aquilar C (1997) Plant and soil response to mycorrhizal fungi and rhizobacteria in nodulated or nitrate-fertilized peas (Pisum sativum L.). Biol Fertil Soils 24:164–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blakemore IC, Searle PL, Daly BK (1972) Methods of chemical analysis of soils. New Zealand Soil Bureau Report 10A, Government Printer, WellingtonGoogle Scholar
  6. Bolinder MA, Angers DA, Bélanger G, Michaud R, Laverdière MR (2002) Root biomass and shoot to root ratios of perennial forage crops in eastern Canada. Can J Plant Sci 2002(82):731–737CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bossuyt H, Denef K, Six J, Frey SD, Merckx R, Paustian K (2001) Influence of microbial populations and residue quality on aggregate stability. Appl Soil Ecol 16:195–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bouyoucos GJ (1962) Hydrometer method improved for making particle size analyses of soils. Agron J 54:464–465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brock TD, Madigan MT (1991) Biology of microorganisms, 6th edn. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, 874 ppGoogle Scholar
  10. Cambardella CA, Elliott ET (1994) Carbon and nitrogen dynamics of soil organic matter fractions from cultivated grassland soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 58:123–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chen CR, Xu ZH, Mathers NJ (2004) Soil carbon pools in adjacent natural and plantation forests of subtropical Australia. Soil Sci Soc Am J 68:282–291Google Scholar
  12. Ding X, Zhang X, He H, Xie H (2009) Dynamics of soil amino sugar pools during decomposition processes of corn residues as affected by inorganic N addition. J Soils Sediments. doi: 10.1007/s11368-009-0132-7
  13. Ellert BH, Bettany JR (1995) Calculation of organic matter and nutrients stored in soils under contrasting management regimes. Can J Soil Sci 75:529–538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Engelking B, Flessa H, Joergensen RG (2007) Shifts in amino sugar and ergosterol contents after addition of sucrose and cellulose to soil. Soil Biol Biochem 399:2111–2118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fischer T (1993) Einfluß von Winterweizen und Winteroggen in Fruchtfolgen mit unterschiedlichem Getreideanteil auf die mikrobielle Biomasse und jahreszeitliche Kohlenstoffdynamik des Bodens. Arch Acker Pflanzenbau Bodenkd 37:181–189, abstract in EnglishGoogle Scholar
  16. Ghani A, Dexter M, Perrot KW (2003) Hot-water extractable C in soils: a sensitive measurement for determining impacts of fertilisation, grazing and cultivation. Soil Biol Biochem 35:1231–1243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gregorich EG, Carter MR, Angers DA, Monreal CM, Ellert BH (1994) Towards a minimum data set to assess soil organic matter quality in agricultural soils. Can J Soil Sci 74:367–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grigal DF, Berguson WE (1998) Soil carbon changes associated with short-rotation systems. Biomass Bioenergy 14:371–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Grogan P, Matthews R (2002) A modelling analysis of the potential for soil carbon sequestration under short rotation coppice willow bioenergy plantations. Soil Use Manag 18:175–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Guggenberger G, Dfrey S, Six J, Paustian K, Elliot ET (1999) Bacterial and fungal cell-wall residues in conventional and no-tillage agroecosystems. Soil Sci Soc Am J 63:1188–1198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Haynes RJ (2005) Labile organic matter fractions as central components of the quality of agricultural soils: an overview. Adv Agron 85:221–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Haynes RJ, Francis GS (1993) Changes in microbial biomass C, soil carbohydrate composition and aggregate stability induced by growth of selected crop and forage species under field conditions. J Soil Sci 44:665–675CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hu S, Coleman DC, Beare MH, Hendrix PE (1995) Soil carbohydrates in aggrading and degrading agroecosystems: influences of fungi and aggregates. Agric Econ Environ 54:77–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jansa J, Mozafar A, Kuhn G, Anken T, Ruh R, Sanders IR, Frossard E (2003) Soil tillage affects the community structure of mycorrhizal fungi in maize roots. Ecol Appl 13:1164–1176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Johnson DW, Curtis PS (2001) Effects of forest management on soil C and N storage: meta analysis. For Ecol Manag 140:227–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kahle P, Hildebrand E, Baum C, Boelcke B (2007) Long-term effects of short rotation forestry with willows and poplar on soil properties. Arch Agron Soil Sci 53:673–682CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kettler TA, Lyon DJ, Doran JW, Powers WL, Stroup WW (2000) Soil quality assessment after weed-control tillage in a no-till wheat-fallow cropping system. Soil Sci Soc Am J 64:339–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kuzovkina YA, Volk TA (2009) The characterization of willow (Salix L.) varieties for use in ecological engineering applications: Co-ordination of structure, function and autecology [Review]. Ecol Eng 35(8):1178–1189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Labrecque M, Teodorescu TI (2005) Field performance and biomass production of 12 willow and poplar clones in short-rotation coppice in southern Quebec (Canada). Biomass Bioenergy 29:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lal R (2004) Soil carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change. Geoderma 123:1–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lemus R, Lal R (2005) Bioenergy crops and carbon sequestration. Crit Rev Plant Sci 24:1–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Liang C, Zhang XD, Rubert KF, Balser TC (2007a) Effect of plant materials on microbial transformation of amino sugars in three soil microcosms. Biol Fertil Soils 43:631–639CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Liang C, Zhang X, Balser TC (2007b) Net microbial amino sugar accumulation process in soil as influenced by different plant material inputs. Biol Fertil Soils 44:1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Moghaddam A, Pietsch G, Ardakani MR, Raza A, Vollmann J, Friedel JK (2011) Genetic diversity and distance among Iranian and European alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) genotypes. Crop Breed J 1:13–28Google Scholar
  35. Munson AD, Margolis HA, Brand DG (1993) Intensive silvicultural treatment: impacts on soil fertility and planted conifer response. Soil Sci Soc Am J 57:246–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Omonode RA, Gal A, Stott DE, Abney TS, Vyn TJ (2006) Short-term vs. continuous chisel and no-till effects on soil carbon and nitrogen. Soil Sci Soc Am J 70:419–425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Parsons JW (1981) Chemistry and distribution of amino sugars. In: Paul EA, Ladd JN (eds) Soil biochemistry, 5. Marcel Dekker, New York, pp 197–227Google Scholar
  38. Pierce FJ, Fortin MC, Staton MJ (1994) Intermittent plowing effects on soil properties in a no-till farming system. Soil Sci Soc Am J 58:1782–1787CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pietola LM, Smucker AJM (1995) Fine root dynamics of alfalfa after multiple cuttings and during a late invasion by weeds. Agron J 87:1161–1169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Polglase PJ, Paul KI, Khanna PK, Nyakuengama JG, O’Connell AM, Grove TS, Battaglia M (2000) Change in soil carbon following afforestation or reforestation: review of experimental evidence and development of a conceptual framework. NCAS Technical Report No. 20. Australian Greenhouse Office, Canberra, ACT, Australia, p 117Google Scholar
  41. Post WM, Kwon KC (2000) Soil carbon sequestration and land-use change: processes and potential. Glob Chang Biol 6:317–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Püttsepp Ü, Rosling A, Taylor AFS (2004) Ectomycorrhizal fungal communities associated with Salix viminalis L. and S. dasyclados Wimm. clones in a short-rotation forestry plantation. Forest Ecol Manag 196:413–424CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Quincke JA, Wortmann CS, Mamo M, Franti T, Drijber RA (2007) Occasional tillage of no-till systems: CO2 flux and changes in total and labile soil organic carbon. Agron J 99:1158–1168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rytter R-M (1999) Fine-root production and turnover in a willow plantation estimated by different calculation methods. Scan J For Res 14:526–537Google Scholar
  45. Sanchez FG, Carter EA, Klepac JF (2003) Enhancing the soil organic matter pool through biomass incorporation. Biomass Bioenergy 24:337–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sartori F, Lal R, Ebinger MH, Parrish DJ (2006) Potential soil carbon sequestration and CO2 offset by dedicated energy crops in the USA. Crit Rev Plant Sci 25:441–472CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Schlegel HG (1992) Allgemeine mikrobiologie. Thieme-Verlag, StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  48. Simpson RT, Frey SD, Six J, Thiet RK (2004) Preferential accumulation of microbial carbon in aggregate structures of no-tillage soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 68:1249–1255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Six J, Frey SD, Thiet RK, Batten KM (2006) Bacterial and fungal contributions to carbon sequestration in agroecosystems. Soil Sci Soc Am J 70:555–569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Soriano-Disla JM, Navarro-Pedreño J, Gómez I (2010) Contribution of a sewage sludge application to the short-term carbon sequestration across a wide range of agricultural soils. Environ Earth Sci. doi: 10.1007/s12665-010-0474-x
  51. Sowden FJ (1968) Effect of long-term annual additions of various organic amendments on the nitrogenous components of a clay and a sand. Can J Soil Sci 48:331–339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tisdall JM, Oades JM (1979) Stabilization of soil aggregates by the root systems of ryegrass. Aust J Soil Res 17:429–441CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Ulzen-Appiah F, Briggs RD, Abrahamson LP, Bickelhaupt DH (2000) Soil carbon pools in short rotation willow (Salix dasyclados) plantation four years after establishment. In Proceedings of Bioenergy, Buffalo, NY October 15–19Google Scholar
  54. Vanden-Bygaart AJ, Kay BD (2004) Persistence of soil organic carbon after plowing a long-term no-till field in Southern Ontario, Canada. Soil Sci Soc Am J 68:1394–1402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Verwijst T, Makeschin F (1996) Environmental aspects of biomass production and routes for European energy supply. In: Concerte action AIR 3-94-2466: report from the working group on chemical soil and water issuesGoogle Scholar
  56. Volk TA, Verwijst T, Tharakan PJ, Abrahamson LP, White EH (2004) Growing fuel: a sustainability assessment of willow biomass crops. Front Ecol Environ 2:411–418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wamberg C, Christensen S, Jakobsen I, Muller AK, Sorensen SJ (2003) The mycorrhizal fungus (Glomus intraradices) affects microbial activity in the rhizosphere of pea plants (Pisum sativum). Soil Biol Biochem 35:1249–1357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Zan CS, Fyles JW, Girouard P, Sampson RA (2001) Carbon sequestration in perennial bioenergy, annual corn and uncultivated systems in southern Quebec. Agric Ecosyst Environ 86:135–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Zelles L (1988) The simultaneous determination of muramic acid and glucosamine in soil by high-performance liquid chromatography with precolumn fluorescence derivatization. Biol Fertil Soils 6:125–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Zhang X, Amelung W (1996) Gas chromatographic determination of muramic acid, glucosamine, mannosamine and galactosamine in soils. Soil Biol Biochem 28(9):1201–1206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zhang X, Amelung W, Yuan Y, Samson-Liebig S, Brown L, Zech W (1999) Land-use effects on amino sugars in particle-size fractions of an Argiudoll. Appl Soil Ecol 11:271–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Zielke RC, Christensen DR (1986) Organic carbon and nitrogen changes in soil under selected cropping systems. Soil Sci Soc Am J 50:363–367CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jérémie Lockwell
    • 1
  • Werther Guidi
    • 1
  • Michel Labrecque
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institut de Recherche en Biologie VégétaleUniversité de Montréal and Montreal Botanical GardenMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations