2019 Graduate Student Showcase

Title of Submission

The Impact of Genotypic Diversity, Plant Species and Nitrogen Fertilizer on Soil Carbon Sequestration in Biofuel Cropping Systems

Degree Program

Biology, MS

Major Advisor Name

Marie-Anne de Graaff

Type of Submission

Scholarly Poster


The atmospheric CO2 concentration is increasing, owing to the burning of fossil fuels. Bioenergy crops provide a renewable source of energy, but their net effect on atmospheric CO2 concentrations depends on how they affect soil carbon (C) storage. This is because soil is the largest terrestrial C sink, and small changes in this sink affect atmospheric CO2 concentrations and climate change. Land use change for bioenergy production reduces soil C, and planting bioenergy grasses at higher levels of diversity may be a strategy to enhance soil C accumulation while reducing the need to apply nitrogen (N) fertilizer. This research quantifies how inter- and intra-species diversity, and N fertilization affect soil C storage in perennial bioenergy cropping systems. After nine growing seasons there is more plant derived C within soils under higher diversity treatments which indicates that not only can biofuel cropping systems be a renewable source of energy, but they can also help to mitigate climate change under specific management for increased crop diversity.

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