Water relations of hybrid willows used for commercial biomass and groundwater remediation
Willow biomass is an environmentally sound, locally produced, renewable source of energy and bioproducts. For ~20 years, researchers at SUNY-ESF have developed willow hybrids, cultivation and harvesting methods to facilitate the commercialization of willow crops for bioenergy in the Northeast and Midwest US. In 2008 I began a collaboration with Dr. Tim Volk to investigate water relations of commercial willow varieties in order to evaluate (1) water use efficiency across a range of sites and (2) effectiveness in transpiring groundwater for phytoremediation of a severely-degraded industrial waste site. We are interested in understanding whether growth patterns and ecophysiological function are collinear across all sites, or whether there is a range of environmental conditions in which increased water use efficiency confers other benefits such as increased survival.
Related publication: (* indicates student contributors)
Schifman, L.A.*, J.C. Stella, M. Teece and T.A. Volk. 2012. Plant growth and water stress response of hybrid willow (Salix spp.) among sites and years in central New York. Biomass & Bioenergy 36: 316-326 DOI:10.1016/j.biombioe.2011.10.042 [pdf]