As a result of high oil prices in the mid-1970s, many European and Scandinavian countries initiated research programmes investigating fuel production from energy crops. Initial studies were aimed at identifying suitable crop systems. One of the systems tested involved planting coppicing tree species at high densities (around 10,000 stools per hectare) and harvesting above ground growth every two to five years. This system was termed ‘Short Rotation Coppice’ (SRC). In the UK, numerous coppicing tree species were tested using this system (Potter, 1990). Examples include Salix viminalis clones, Populus interamericana clones, Eucalyptus archeri, Alnus cordata, and Northofagus procera. Willow and poplar clones emerged favourably from these trials, producing high yields without succumbing to disease or frost. Other research programmes concentrated on developing harvesting, processing and power generation equipment that could cope with biomass produced by a variety of crop systems including SRC. Political backing for SRC was shown on 20 December 1994 when the UK minister for Energy announced government support for three power generation projects using woodfuel gasification technology. These projects were expected to ‘stimulate substantial commitment to coppicing’.
Although informative, results from early research programmes could not predict the yield of willow or poplar SRC under different environmental conditions. Without this information planners could not make informed decisions as to where SRC plantations and power generation plants should be sited in order to maximise yield and land use efficiency. Growers also needed information on likely yields achievable by different site/clone combinations, in order to estimate their financial return from these crops. For these reasons the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (now incorporated into the Department of the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs [Defra]) and the Forestry Commission (FC) sought to quantify and model the yield potential of a diverse range of willow and poplar clones when grown as SRC on agricultural sites across the UK.
The subsequent research programme ‘Yield models for energy coppice of poplar and willow’ was coordinated by ETSU and carried out by Forest Research (FR) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Northern Ireland (DARDNI, formally Department of Agriculture, Northern Ireland). The backbone of this research programme was a network of 49 field trials established on agricultural land throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Data collected from these sites continues to be used in the development of empirical yield models and process based predictive yield models capable of estimating the productivity of varieties grown under a range of environmental conditions.
This data set contains the meteorological data collected at these sites during the project. The variables recorded were:
Mean air temperature (oC); Maximum air temperature (oC); Minimum air temperature (oC); Mean soil temperature (oC); Rainfall (mm); Mean relative humidity (%); Photosynthetically Active Radiation (umol.m-2s-1) (with the final two only being introduced from 2000 onwards).
See also Evans S (coordinator), Baldwin M, Casella E, Henshall P, Morgan G, Poole J, Sayce M, Stokes V, Taylor P, Tubby I (2007) Final Report: Yield Models for Energy: Coppice of Poplar and Willow. Report to DTI (B/W2/00624/00/00). Ed: T. Randle and I. Tubby. Attribution statement: