Hedgerow carbon research to provide new insights at Royal Agricultural College farm

Research into the role of hedgerows in carbon storage is to provide insights into sustainable environmental management. A PhD research student at the Royal Agricultural College is pioneering new methods of measuring biomass carbon in British hedgerows.

Matthew Axe has been using the College farms in order to gain knowledge of how much carbon is present in the woody biomass of a typical farmland hedge, both shoots and roots.

Despite global concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and the need to mitigate these through various carbon sequestration projects, very little attention has been given to the role that hedgerows play in trapping and building carbon into their biomass and hedge soils.

Matthew’s PhD is being supervised by Dr John Conway, Dr Richard Baines and Dr Ian Grange.

Dr John Conway, Principal Lecturer in Soil Science/Earth Sciences, explained: “This study is important because little is known about hedgerows yet these extensive features of the countryside can store a considerable amount of carbon which could possibly be increased by adapting the management of cutting. Also we don’t really know how much carbon is being lost when hedgerows are ripped out for development.”

Dr Ian Grange, Senior Lecturer in Environment and Countryside Management, added: “With the growing interest in the role British farms play in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, the hedgerow carbon research provides another important piece of the jigsaw. This work is yielding fascinating results on a range of levels with the potential to inform decisions not only at the farm management level, but also for wider policy.”

For more details visit the Royal Agricultural College website: www.rau.ac.uk