Short-rotation coppice systems like shrub willow are projected to be an important source of biomass in the United States for the production of bioenergy, biofuels, and renewable bio-based products, with the potential for auxiliary environmental benefits and multifunctional systems. Almost three decades of research has focused on the development of shrub willow crops for biomass and ecosystem services. The current expansion of willow in New York State (about 500 ha) for the production of renewable power and heat has been possible because of incentive programs offered by the federal government, commitments by end users, the development of reliable harvesting systems, and extension services offered to growers. Improvements in the economics of the system are expected as willow production expands further, which should help lower establishment costs, enhance crop management options and increase efficiencies in harvesting and logistics. Deploying willow in multifunctional value-added systems provides opportunities for both potential producers and end users to learn about the system and the quality of the biomass feedstock, which in turn will help overcome barriers to expansion.
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Volk, T. A., Heavey, J. P. and Eisenbies, M. H. (2016), Advances in shrub-willow crops for bioenergy, renewable products, and environmental benefits. Food and Energy Security. doi: 10.1002/fes3.82