Water dynamics of land use change for bioenergy links to crops, land and agronomy

Bhardwaj, A.K., T. Zenone, J. Chen, S.K. Hamilton, and G.P. Robertson

Presented at the All Scientist Meeting (2011-04-15 to 2011-04-15 )

Critical to the sustainability of an ecosystem is the flow and availability of sufficient water for its communities. Changes in land use-land cover alter many environmental parameters, such as soil properties, water fluxes and availability. In agro-ecosystems (agricultural and bioenergy), the change in water exchange between land and atmosphere (evapotranspiration, ET) is key to net flow and availability of water on surface and below ground. In this study we examined changes in ET due to land use change from an agricultural land vs. grassland to bioenergy production. To describe the effect of land use change on the ET fluxes we also examined the role of crop choices, soil and land quality, and agronomic management over a 2 year transition period to three bioenergy cropping systems. The study was conducted on the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center’s (GLBRC) Scale-Up sites in Southwest Michigan. Three sites were converted from agricultural (Corn-Soybean) to corn/switchgrass/native prairie cropping systems, while other three were converted to same land use from grasslands under CRP (Conservation Reserve Program). Our results indicated that crops as well as agronomy played an important role in determining annual water balance and availability of water in a landscape.

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