Achieving Optimum Feedstock Yield
Anticipating the expected yields of poplar is critical in modeling a healthy biofuels economy. Our team is developing a poplar growth model suitable for the Northwest by fine-tuning a general purpose model with parameters specific to poplar, the climate, and the soils of the Northwest region.
We have run two major scenarios, one predicting non-irrigated poplar growth, and one predicting irrigated poplar growth. In most of the region, water availability is the factor that limits the yield of poplar biofuels, because a lack of water reduces the growing season for non-irrigated crops as winter water accumulation is depleted.
The figure on the right shows the differences in the predicted growth between these two scenarios.
In addition to understanding the effect of water, the model will also include a number of enhancements for modeling a poplar biofuel feedstock. These include practices particular to poplar for biofuels, such as coppicing and intercropping.