Simulating biomass production and water use of poplars in a plantation using a STELLA-Based model


Poplar trees (Populus spp.) are some of the fastest growing hardwoods used for biomass
production. There are, however, conflicting observations about water use of poplars associated with
the impact on local water resources. A STELLA (Structural Thinking and Experiential Learning
Laboratory with Animation) model was modified to investigate the aboveground biomass production
and water use in a mature (6 to 8 yrs. old) poplar plantation for a 3-year simulation period. The
model predicted the typical annual pattern of soil evaporation, root water uptake, and leaf water
transpiration in the poplar plantation increasing from winter to summer followed by respective
decreases from summer to winter. Root water uptake and leaf water transpiration were proportional
to the soil water content. More water was needed to produce the same amount of biomass during
summer than during other seasons. Less water was consumed to produce the same amount of
biomass as the age of the poplar trees increased. The net increase in biomass over the 3-year period
was 0.69 104 kg/ha, which was equivalent to a 65% increase in biomass. The average rate of daily
water use to daily biomass production was 1.05 109 cm3 water/kg biomass/ha. A good linear
correlation between cumulative biomass production (CBP) and cumulative water use (CWU) was
identified: YCBP = 0.001 XCWU, R2 = 0.99, p < 0.001. This simple correlation provides a very good
reference to estimate poplar water use efficiency (i.e., ratio of water use to biomass production) in
growing regions where water resources are a limiting factor

  • Citation: Ouyang, Ying; Dev, Satyanarayan; Grace III, Johnny M.; Amatya, Devendra M.; Leininger, Theodor D. 2022. Simulating biomass production and water use of poplars in a plantation using a STELLA-Based model. Forests. 13(4): 547-.
  • Keywords: biomass production, poplar, STELLA model, water use
  • Posted Date: April 19, 2022
  • Modified Date: April 21, 2022
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