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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

Spatial yield estimates of fast-growing willow plantations for energy based on climatic variables in northern Europe

Mola-Yudego, Blas; Rahlf, Johannes; Astrup, Rasmus; Dimitriou, Ioannis


Spatially accurate and reliable estimates from fast-growing plantations are a key factor for planning energy supply. This study aimed to estimate the yield of biomass from short rotation willow plantations in northern Europe. The data were based on harvesting records from 1790 commercial plantations in Sweden, grouped into three ad hoc categories: low, middle and high performance. The predictors included climatic variables, allowing the spatial extrapolation to nearby countries. The modeling and spatialization of the estimates used boosted regression trees, a method based on machine learning. The average RMSE for the final models selected was 0.33, 0.39 and 1.91 (corresponding to R-2 = 0.77, 0.88 and 0.45), for the low, medium and high performance categories, respectively. The models were then applied to obtain 191 km yield estimates in the rest of Sweden, as well as for Norway, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Baltic coast of Germany and Poland. The results demonstrated a large regional variation. For the first rotation under high performance conditions, the country averages were as follows: >7 odt ha(-1) yr(-1) in the Baltic coast of Germany, >6 odt ha(-1) yr(-1) in Denmark, >5 odt ha(-1) yr(-1) in the Baltic coast of Poland and between 4-5 odt ha(-1) yr(-1) in the rest. The results of this approach indicate that they can provide faster and more accurate predictions than previous modeling approaches and can offer interesting possibilities in the field of yield modeling.


bioenergy; biofuels; biomass; boosted regression trees; climatic restrictions; energy crops; predictive models; short rotation; willow; yield maps

Published in

GCB Bioenergy
2016, Volume: 8, number: 6, pages: 1093-1105

      Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG7 Affordable and clean energy

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Agricultural Science

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