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  • Demonstration Project Report Hybrid-Willow Short-Rotation Woody Crops

    Practice Guidelines and Procedure Manual David Alderson, Debi Walker, Stephen Kelloway, Lynn Baechler, Ross McCurdy, and Andrew Swanson

  • Acknowledgements The Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy & the Environment at Cape Breton University wishes to acknowledge the contribution and support of Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Rendell’s Farm, and the following persons who enabled the success of the Hybrid-Willow Short-Rotation Woody Crop Demonstration Project, including:

    Gerard Shaw Gary Koziel Eddie Rendell Barrie Fiolek Barry MacLean Luciano Lisi Francis Allard

  • Executive Summary Nova Scotians have an opportunity to re-establish the agro-forestry economy with a focus on export-orientated, high-value bioproduct production and marketing. There is ample capacity for the development of a large-scale commercial bioproducts industry in Maritime Canada; one that can take advantage of the regional infrastructure, free-trade agreements, regional academic and innovation-oriented institutions, commercially- orientated bioproduct research and development, and availability of renewable biomass feedstock resources.

    In June 2010, the Verschuren Centre at Cape Breton University partnered with Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation to research and demonstrate the potential for hybrid-willow to be a value added cash crop to the agriculture and forestry sectors of Cape Breton Island. In 2011, the project was expanded to include an additional plot with partners, Lockheed Martin Corporation and Rendell’s Farm. The project aimed to generate knowledge in the development of biomass crops that could be grown on abandoned, underutilized or remediated lands. Short-rotation woody crops (SRWC) silviculture is characterized by high planting density (approximately 13,000-16,000 cuttings per hectare), periodic harvesting over a period of an approximately 25-year lifespan, with mean yields of 10 oven dry tonnes per hectare annually or greater.

    The yield results of the Verschuren Centre’s hybrid-willow demonstration project confirmed that hybrid-willow plants can perform very similar in different planting conditions. Remediated sites can yield as much as agricultural lands within the first establishment years of the crop. However, further study and subsequent harvest rotations are required to determine if this trend will prevail over the willow’s lifecycle.

    Overall, growth on the Broughton remediated mine site surpassed growth on former agricultural lands. The SX-64 and SX-67 varieties of hybrid willow outperformed Viminales, which was both observationally recognizable and confirmed in our harvest data. In the experimental trial, Fabius was the top performer at 22.1 odt/ha/year. Further trials of Fabius would be valuable to determine its commercial viability, along with SX-61 (16.8 odt/ha/year), Otisco (15.4odt/ha/year), SV1 (13.5 odt/ha/year), and Sherburne (13.3 odt/ha/year).

    Practice Guidelines and Procedure Manual Hybrid-Willow Short-Rotation Woody Crops | I

  • Table of Contents Executive Summary ....................................................................................................... I

    Table of Contents .......................................................................................................... II

    Table of Figures .................................................................................................. III List of Tables ....................................................................................................... IV

    1 Introduction ............................................................................................................... 1

    2 CBU Hybrid-Willow SRWC Demonstration Project ................................................. 3

    3 Advantages of Hybrid-Willow SRWC......................................................................... 6

    4 Hybrid-Willow Varieties, Sourcing and Selection .................................................... 8

    5 Site Selection ........................................................................................................... 11

    6 Plantation Design .................................................................................................... 16

    7 Establishment.......................................................................................................... 18

    8 Schedule and Production Timeline ........................................................................ 25

    9 Monitoring, Maintenance and Management .......................................................... 28

    10 Harvesting .............................................................................................................. 36

    11 Yield ........................................................................................................................ 39

    12 Conclusions ........................................................................................................... 42

    13 References ............................................................................................................. 44

    Appendix

    Practice Guidelines and Procedure Manual Hybrid-Willow Short-Rotation Woody Crops | II

  • Table of Figures Figure 1 - Cape Breton University (left: October 11, 2011; right: October 27, 2011) ..................... 2

    Figure 2 - Point Edward Farm (top left: May 30, 2011; top right: July 4, 2011; bottom left: October 27, 2011; bottom right: September 14, 2011) .............................................3

    Figure 3 - A relief map of Nova Scotia showing elevation by hypsometric tints, (a gradation of different colours), and spot elevations (Natural Resources Canada, 2004) ...................9

    Figure 4 - Optional double-row plot design dimensions for cultivating hybrid-willow (Abrahamson, Volk, Kopp, White, & Ballard, 2002) ..................................................... 12

    Figure 5 - Egedal Energy planter (Egedal Maskinfabrik A/S, 2014 ............................................... 17

    Figure 6 - Salix Maskiner’s Step planter (IGGESUND Holmen Group, 2013 ................................ 18

    Figure 7 - Salix Maskiner’s Step planter (SUNY-ESF, 2004) ........................................................ 19

    Figure 8 - Typical hybrid-willow production and maintenance timelines (Abrahamson, Volk, Kopp, White, & Ballard, 2002 ................................................................................ 21

    Figure 9 - A multi-row rototiller used for weeding in the first growing season (Abrahamson, Volk, Kopp, White, & Ballard, 2002) ..................................................... 23

    Figure 10 - Sickle bar mower (left) and rotary mower (right ........................................................ 25

    Figure 11 - Pictures of insects and birds nest observed during the hybrid-willow demonstration project ................................................................................................. 28

    Figure 11 - Willow forage harvester and bender harvester (Abrahamson, Volk, Kopp, White, & Ballard, 2002) ............................................................................................... 30

    Figure 12 - Broughton site pre-harvest, Fall 2013 ........................................................................ 30

    Figure 13 - CBU willow post harvest ............................................................................................. 31

    Figure 14 - Hybrid-willow yield (tonnes per hectare) by trial location and variety, Cape Breton Island ...................................................................................................... 32

    Figure 15 - Hybrid-willow yield (tonnes per hectare) by experimental trial variety ..................... 32

    Practice Guidelines and Procedure Manual Hybrid-Willow Short-Rotation Woody Crops | III

  • List of Tables Table 2 - Available hybrid-willow varieties with commercially available varieties in a white

    background and development varieties in a grey background (Abrahamson, Volk, Smart, & Cameron, 2009) ........................................................................................ 6

    Table 3 - Optimal soil conditions for willow growth (Abrahamson, Volk, Kopp, White,

    & Ballard, 2002 .................................................................................................................. 8

    Table 4 - Site assessment ............................................................................................................... 10

    Table 5 - Schedule of work and timelines ..................................................................................... 19

    Table 6 - Weed management guidelines (Agro Énergie, 2010) .................................................... 24

    Table 7 - Pests commonly observed on willow ............................................................................. 27

    Table 8 - Hybrid-willow demonstration project yield results ....................................................... 33

    Practice Guidelines and Procedure Manual Hybrid-Willow Short-Rotation Woody Crops | IV

  • 1 Introduction

    Practice Guidelines and Procedure Manual Hybrid-Willow Short-Rotation Woody Crops | 1

  • Practice Guidelines and

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