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Arboriculture for Wood Production and Biomass

Activity in brief ...
Study of the influence of genetic characteristics, environmental factors and cultivation processes on the growth and production of poplar, with particular reference to identifying suitable material for cultivation, methods of planting and the most favourable spacings for nursery cultivation, for traditional plantations and plantations for biomass production. The cultivation model is adapted to the clone type and site conditions, as well as the assortments to be produced in relation to the needs of the industrial end-user.
Traditional poplar cultivation takes place in cultivation contexts with productive features which are very different from one another; there are zones along river beds, former agricultural land and marginal land. This type of cultivation forms part of the productive output of commercial farm enterprises of varying dimensions, and is sometimes undertaken by entrepreneurs from outside the agricultural sector. The variability of the cultivation model adopted must then be added to this already broad range of contexts, from the most extensive type used in marginal zones or by non-agricultural enterprises, to the highly intensive type, used by producers who specialise in poplar cultivation. The varying environmental factors and the diversity of cultivation models have a considerable influence, both in terms of quality and quantity, on growth and production.

Poplar cultivation involves two quite distinct phases: growing plants in nurseries and cultivation in specialised plantations. The purpose of nursery growing is to produce balanced, vigorous, healthy plants with good nutritive reserves, in order to provide excellent starter plants for quality poplar production. This type of cultivation is generally carried out by specialised nursery firms, less frequently by poplar farms. Until fairly recently, specialised plantations essentially involved poplar plantations with a density of between 250 and 330 trees per hectare; lately, owing to financial contributions by the Regions, higher-density plantations of 11001300 to 800014000 trees per hectare have started to become widespread, destined respectively for cellulose (5-6 year growth cycles) or the particleboard industry and power plants (1-3 year growth cycles). In Italy, the cultivation of these plantations is carried out following agronomic criteria, permitting high production levels over the short term, but which require considerable capital investment.

General aims and planning strategies
All studies undertaken by this group are aimed at identifying which cultivation methods are best suited to fulfil technical, economic and environmental requirements which are voiced from time to time by the poplar cultivation sector, taking into account the limitations placed on the scope for development by land policy and relevant legislation in this sector.
The general objectives are as follows:
  • perfecting cultivation techniques for nurseries and stool beds and optimising the use of machinery for this purpose;
  • rationalising the cultivation model for Short Rotation Forestry plantations for biomass production, with particular regard to mechanisation;
  • evaluating the ecological and economic sustainability of Short Rotation Forestry for the production of biomass for energy;
  • testing the applicability of new cultivation techniques to newly selected clones;
  • reducing the environmental impact (to the soil and water-table) of traditional poplar cultivation.

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Staff Research concluded () or ACTIVE()
Facciotto Gianni

Bergante Sara

Bellan Sergio 




BIOENERGIE (Bioenerlegno)






NOCCIOLO (Pota e Recicla)

Cultivation techniques in poplar nurseries
Non-food agriculture - Energy crops
Semi-extensive poplar cultivation
Cultivation techniques in poplar stands
RI.SELV.ITALIA Sub task 2.3.1
Productivity of species: SRF trials with poplars and willows
Task 2 'Timber production outside natural forests'
Subtask 'Woody biomass for energy and industrial use'
RI.SELV.ITALIA Sub task 2.3.4
Mechanisation of poplar and willow SRF planting operations
Task 2 'Timber production outside natural forests'
Subtask 'Woody biomass for energy and industrial use'
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