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Buffers for biomass production in temperate European agriculture: A review and synthesis on function, ecosystem services and implementation

Christen, Ben and Dalgaard, Tommy (2013) Buffers for biomass production in temperate European agriculture: A review and synthesis on function, ecosystem services and implementation. Biomass and Bioenergy, 55, pp. 53-67.

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Summary

In addition to their potential for biomass production, buffer strips on agricultural land have been shown to protect surface water quality by reducing erosion and nutrient leaching, and can play a key role in nature and flood protection, and the design of bioenergy landscapes resilient to climate changes, and the environmental pressures from intensive agriculture. Use of conservation buffers by farmers outside of designated schemes is very limited to date, but the increasing demand for bioenergy and the combination of agricultural production with nature protection calls for a much wider implementation. This paper reviews the knowledge on buffer functioning, socioeconomics and practical farming aspects. It describes how a defined three-zone buffer design, with upland arable fields buffered
by a combination of 1) grassland, 2) short rotation forestry (SRF) or coppice (SRC), and 3) undisturbed (semi-natural) vegetation along water courses, can be incorporated into bioenergy landscapes as productive nature protection elements in a way acceptable to farmers.
Of great importance to nutrient cycling is that land use plays a much greater role in determining catchment hydrology than soil type: shelterbelts or buffer strips have markedly higher infiltration capacity than arable or pasture land. Root architecture of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants
differs between species and is important for the extent of 1 hydrological changes after establishment. Riparian buffers retain 30-99% of nitrate N and 20-100% of phosphorous from
runoff and shallow groundwater. Such buffers are also highly effective for pesticide removal, and there is a high potential for low-input fuel, feed, or fiber production, while many synergies in daily management can be realized. Landscape amenities, sporting opportunities, and a highly visible display of farming skills are additional benefits. Buffers therefore have potential for helping to manage nutrients and water on farmland in a sustainable way.


EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:three-zone buffer; Short Rotation Coppice (SRC); Short Rotation Forestry (SRF); farm management; farmers’ decision making; diffuse pollution
Subjects: Environmental aspects > Biodiversity and ecosystem services
Environmental aspects > Landscape and recreation
Farming Systems > Farm nutrient management
Research affiliation: Denmark > DARCOF III (2005-2010) > BIOCONCENS - Biomass and bio-energy production in organic agriculture
Denmark > DARCOF III (2005-2010) > REFUGIA - The role of Organic Farms as refugia for biodiversity
Deposited By: Dalgaard, Head of research unit Tommy
ID Code:18937
Deposited On:17 Jun 2011 07:02
Last Modified:19 Jun 2013 09:38
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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