BioEnergy Research

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 955–968 | Cite as

Yield Potential of Tree Species in Organic and Conventional Short-Rotation Agroforestry Systems in Southern Germany

  • J. A. Huber
  • K. May
  • T. Siegl
  • H. Schmid
  • G. Gerl
  • K.-J. Hülsbergen


The increasing demand for bioenergy and the combination of agricultural production with conservation has made short-rotation agroforestry systems (SRAFS) a sustainable land-management option. Aboveground woody biomass is a decisive factor in economic and ecological assessment of those systems. To study the yields of organic and conventional SRAFS, the tree species black alder, black locust, poplar clone Max 3, poplar clone Androscoggin, willow clone Inger, and a mixture of different native species were established in an alley-cropping configuration in 2009 and coppiced in 2012. Biomass was determined by harvesting the inner rows of the tree strips and, to investigate row differences within a strip, by an allometric model which estimates tree biomass from stem diameter. Significant variation was observed between species. For inner rows and at the conventional system, highest harvested average annual yield was observed for poplar Androscoggin (10.5 todt ha−1 year−1), followed by black locust (9.7 todt ha−1 year−1), poplar Max 3 (8.6 todt ha−1 year−1), black alder (7.6 todt ha−1 year−1), the native mix (4.9 todt ha−1 year−1), and willow (3.9 todt ha−1 year−1). At the organic system, highest yields were observed for poplar Max 3 (Androscoggin not planted) (10.9 todt ha−1 year−1), followed by black locust (8.1 todt ha−1 year−1), black alder (7.4 todt ha−1 year−1), willow (6.4 todt ha−1 year−1), and the native mix (4.7 todt ha−1 year−1). Farming system differences were only significant for willow and poplar Max 3; however, the higher yields of the organic system seemed to be a result of varying small-scale site properties rather than a management effect. Border rows showed 18–111 % more yield than inner rows because of greater tree diameters or heights and higher number of stems. This edge effect was emphasized in the conventional systems, possibly indicating that trees benefit from fertilizers applied at adjacent crop fields.


Poplar Black locust Black alder Willow Allometry Edge effect 



We gratefully acknowledge Dr. Weber for his constructive comments on the manuscript. We thank the staff of the Research Station Scheyern for their support with the fieldwork. We would like to specially thank Christina Bauer, Thomas Langenegger, and Daniel Plank. Gratitude is also owed to Markus Karmann and Lucie Chmelíková for their help with the fieldwork. The project was coordinated by the Institute for Applied Material Flow Management Trier.


This work is part of the research project ELKE (Development of an extensive land-use strategy for the production of renewable resources as compensation measures of the impact regulation in Germany), funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Agency for Renewable Resources.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. A. Huber
    • 1
  • K. May
    • 2
  • T. Siegl
    • 3
  • H. Schmid
    • 1
  • G. Gerl
    • 3
  • K.-J. Hülsbergen
    • 1
  1. 1.Technische Universität München, Chair for Organic Agriculture and AgronomyFreisingGermany
  2. 2.Technische Universität München, Ecophysiology of PlantsFreisingGermany
  3. 3.German Research Centre for Environmental Health, Institute of Biochemical Plant PathologyNeuherbergGermany

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