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Carbon storage in old hedgerows: The importance of below-ground biomass


Ambitious climate change mitigation goals require novel carbon (C) sinks in agricultural systems. Thus, the establishment of new hedgerows is increasingly attracting attention as a C sequestration measure. Despite hedgerows being a traditional agroforestry system, few studies have been conducted on hedgerow C stocks. Data on below-ground biomass (BGB) in particular are limited. The aim of this study was therefore to quantify both above-ground biomass (AGB) and BGB C stocks, as well as litter and soil organic C stocks, of established hedgerow systems by destructive sampling at three sites in northern Germany. The total biomass C (TBC) stock of the sampled hedgerows was 105±11Mgha−1 on average. An additional 11±2Mgha−1 were found in hedgerow litter and dead roots. Coarse roots (34% of TBC), stumps (22%) and harvestable biomass (20%) were the largest biomass C pools of the hedgerows. The BGB:AGB ratio was 0.7±0.1, showing the importance of BGB in old hedgerow systems. Compared with other woody systems, these old hedgerows seem to have a different biomass distribution, with more biomass allocated below-ground. About 15% of BGB C stock was stored in fine roots, whereas 85% was stored in coarse roots. The topsoil (0–30cm) contained 85% of coarse root biomass C and 51% of fine root biomass C. Hedgerow C stock exceeded that of average German forests, and thus demonstrated their large potential for C sequestration when newly planted. This study provides detailed empirical data on C stocks in old hedgerow systems, and thus can be used to take hedgerow C sinks into account in C farming frameworks.

Author(s): Drexler, S., Thiessen, E., & Don, A.

Journal: GCB Bioenergy: Bioproducts for a Sustainable Bioeconomy

Year: 2023


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