BioEnergy Research

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 1512–1522 | Cite as

Model Simulation of Cumulative Carbon Sequestration by Switchgrass (Panicum Virgatum L.) in the Mediterranean Area Using the DAYCENT Model

  • Andrea Nocentini
  • Nicola Di Virgilio
  • Andrea MontiEmail author


Literature lacks large-scale studies on cumulative C storage capacity of perennial grasses in Europe. At the same time, there is raising interest toward growing biomass crops in Europe, especially under marginal lands of the Mediterranean basin. In the present study, we used the DAYCENT model to estimate the potential of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) as a bioethanol crop to store soil C in the Mediterranean basin. Two scenarios were simulated: (i) cultivation only on heathlands, shrublands, and pastures (1.76 Mha) and (ii) cultivation on heathlands, shrublands, and pastures, plus 5 % of arable lands currently used for cereals (2.97 Mha in total). Cumulative biomass resulted in 184 and 303 Mt over 15 years, while soil organic carbon (SOC) storage values were 6.1 and 12.4 Mt, respectively. Mean annual biomass yield ranged between 5.6 and 9.4 Mg ha−1, while annual SOC accumulation was 0.02 to 0.62 Mg ha−1. Fossil fuel displacement resulted in 54 and 89 Mt of C, i.e., 198 and 327 Mt of equivalent CO2 in the first and second scenarios, respectively. In the second scenario, switchgrass SOC storage was much more pronounced. However, a loss of 54 Mt of grain commodities was also caused by switchgrass cultivation on 5 % of arable lands with consequent indirect land use change (ILUC) effects. The latter were, however, quite low (16 %) when compared to environmental benefits as stored SOC.


Marginal lands Cereal lands Biomass SOC Direct LUC Indirect LUC GHGs 



The present study was supported by the European Community, project OPTIMA—Optimization of Perennial Grasses for Biomass Production in the Mediterranean Area (Project No. 289642, FP7). Authors gratefully acknowledge John Field, Ernie Marx, Melannie Hartman, Cindy Keough, Steve Del Grosso, and William Parton for their support in the DAYCENT model usage and parameterization.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Nocentini
    • 1
  • Nicola Di Virgilio
    • 2
  • Andrea Monti
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural SciencesUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.National Research Council of ItalyInstitute of BiometeorologyBolognaItaly

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