Short-rotation coppice of willow for phytoremediation of a metal-contaminated agricultural area: A sustainability assessment

Nele Witters, Stijn van Slycken, Ann Ruttens, Kristin Adriaensen, Erik Meers, Linda Meiresonne, Filip M.G. Tack, Theo Thewys, Erik Laes, Jaco Vangronsveld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Large areas of land contaminated with cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn) are currently in agricultural production in the Campine region in Belgium. Cadmium contents in food and fodder crops frequently exceed legal threshold values, resulting in crop confiscation. This imposes a burden on agriculture and regional policy and, therefore, encourages proper soil management. One way to increase agricultural income and improve soil quality is by growing alternative nonfood crops such as willows in short-rotation coppice (SRC) systems that remediate the soil. This paper compares SRC of willow with rapeseed and energy maize regarding four attributes: metal accumulation capacity, gross agricultural income per hectare, CO 2 emission avoidance potential, and agricultural acceptance. Based on multicriteria decision analysis, we conclude that, although SRC of willow has a high potential as an energy and remediating crop, it is unlikely to be implemented on the short term in Flanders unless the economic incentives for the farmers are improved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-152
Number of pages9
JournalBioenergy Research
Volume2
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Agriculture
  • Belgium
  • CO
  • Income
  • Multicriteria decision analysis
  • Soil remediation

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