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Research Call

DAFM Reference

Lead(Collaborating)Institution

DAFM Award

DAFM National Call 2013 13/C/498 UCD, (WIT, Teagasc, UL, TCD) €933,857

Project Title:

Biomass and renewable energy from Short Rotation Forestry

Project Coordinator:

Dr. Conor O'Reilly

Project Abstract

This research project is exploring the potential of short rotation forestry (SRF) to contribute to biomass production and renewable energy targets in Ireland.  To this end, information and is needed in relation to existing SRF stands and on silvicultural methods that might be used to improve the productivity of stands, while maximising the quality of the biomass produced. Recently established plantations of eucalyptus have been identified from data provided by the Coillte GIS division, totalling over 300 ha. The oldest of these plantations is 8 years of age. Site visits have been completed on three of these sites, and will continue into 2016. A number of SRF trials have been established in the past and sample material has been collected and analysed to build up a data set of the characteristics of the SRF species.  A SRF experimental trial was established on a Coillte reforestation site in Brownswood, Portlaw, Co. Waterford. The trial contains four species (grand fir, Sitka spruce, Eucalyptus and Italian alder) planted at three different spacings. Measurements of height, diameter and survival were recorded in December 2015.  Phenological and physiological measurements have commenced at the Johnstown Castle trial, which was established in 2014 and tree growth was monitored periodically during 2015, but there has been little inter-tree competition. A new potted experiment was set up in a polytunnel in Kinsealy with the aim of studying competition effects more intensively than is possible in the field (i.e. environmental variation is so large that detecting treatment effects is difficult). Seedlings of eucalyptus, Italian alder and Sitka spruce were grown in pots at three different densities. In addition, measurement protocols for use in the field trials are being developed using the material in the potted trial. A review of internationally has revealed that at the present time, cut-to-length harvesting, integrated harvesting, and residue bundling are the recommended supply chains. Data has been gathered from international studies on the harvesting of SRF that will be implemented into a financial model. A survey of potential SRF markets has been completed, which consisted of 30 face-to-face interviews of wood purchasers in the energy, panel board and sawmill sectors. The data will be used to identify the applicability of SRF to wood markets in Ireland, and identify the value of SRF, which will be used to evaluate the return on investment. Soil sampling for estimation of soil carbon stocks at SRF sites commenced in summer 2015 and will be completed in February 2016. This work is being supported by two undergraduate research projects. A fulltime postgraduate research student has been appointed to the project from November 2015 and a site survey to determine the suitability of the Johnstown Castle trial site for nutrient and hydrological monitoring has been completed.  The project website has been maintained and updated during the reporting period. Dissemination materials submitted from project partners have been uploaded as pdf files. 

Final Report:

Not available yet.