Biomass production and carbon stock of poplar agroforestry systems in Yamunanagar and Saharanpur districts of northwestern India – A paper in Current Science

The paper from Current Science provides an assessment of carbon storage vis-à-vis CO2 assimilation by poplar plantations in agroforestry for two districts of northwestern India.

Poplar (Populus deltoides) has gained considerable importance in agroforestry plantations of western Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Punjab, and Jammu and Kashmir due to its deciduous nature, fast growth, short rotation and high industrial requirement. Poplar based agroforestry systems are prevalent among farmers of Saharanpur (UP) and Yamunanagar (Haryana) districts of northwestern India.

These systems are not only remunerative to the farmers, but also play an important role in the assimilation of atmospheric carbon dioxide in the form of biomass carbon stocks. Contribution of poplar plantations to carbon storage was found to be 27– 32 t ha–1 in boundary system, whereas it was 66– 83 t ha–1 in agrisilviculture system at a rotation period of 7 years in the two districts. Thus, poplar plantations make important contributions towards atmospheric CO2 assimilation and hence play a significant role in the mitigation of atmospheric accumulation of greenhouse gases.

Poplar-based agroforestry plantations in Saharanpur and Yamunanagar produce considerable amount of biomass, which helps the farmers in generating income. Poplar-based boundary and agrisilviculture systems account for 99–304 t ha–1 CO2 assimilation at the rotation period of 7 years in the two districts. One advantage of these systems is that sequestration does not have to end at wood harvest. Carbon storage can continue well beyond if tree stem or branches are converted into furniture, poles, hardboards, plyboards, etc.

Agroforestry trees also improve land cover in agricultural fields, in addition to providing C input (root biomass, litter and pruning) to the soil. Thus, these plantations make important contribution towards carbon stock vis-à-vis atmospheric CO2 assimilation, i.e. tapping of GHGs responsible for global warming. Hence, poplar-based agroforestry systems in these districts play a significant role in mitigation of atmospheric accumulation of GHGs. However, agroforestry alone cannot solve the current climatic problems, but can only be one among a range of strategies. 

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