Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 2

Search results for: cover crops

2 Biogas from Cover Crops and Field Residues: Effects on Soil, Water, Climate and Ecological Footprint

Authors: Manfred Szerencsits, Christine Weinberger, Maximilian Kuderna, Franz Feichtinger, Eva Erhart, Stephan Maier

Abstract:

Cover or catch crops have beneficial effects for soil, water, erosion, etc. If harvested, they also provide feedstock for biogas without competition for arable land in regions, where only one main crop can be produced per year. On average gross energy yields of approx. 1300 m³ methane (CH4) ha-1 can be expected from 4.5 tonnes (t) of cover crop dry matter (DM) in Austria. Considering the total energy invested from cultivation to compression for biofuel use a net energy yield of about 1000 m³ CH4 ha-1 is remaining. With the straw of grain maize or Corn Cob Mix (CCM) similar energy yields can be achieved. In comparison to catch crops remaining on the field as green manure or to complete fallow between main crops the effects on soil, water and climate can be improved if cover crops are harvested without soil compaction and digestate is returned to the field in an amount equivalent to cover crop removal. In this way, the risk of nitrate leaching can be reduced approx. by 25% in comparison to full fallow. The risk of nitrous oxide emissions may be reduced up to 50% by contrast with cover crops serving as green manure. The effects on humus content and erosion are similar or better than those of cover crops used as green manure when the same amount of biomass was produced. With higher biomass production the positive effects increase even if cover crops are harvested and the only digestate is brought back to the fields. The ecological footprint of arable farming can be reduced by approx. 50% considering the substitution of natural gas with CH4 produced from cover crops.

Keywords: Biogas, cover crops, catch crops, land use competition, sustainable agriculture.

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1 Root System Production and Aboveground Biomass Production of Chosen Cover Crops

Authors: M. Hajzler, J. Klimesova, T. Streda, K. Vejrazka, V. Marecek, T. Cholastova

Abstract:

The most planted cover crops in the Czech Republic are mustard (Sinapis alba) and phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia Benth.). A field trial was executed to evaluate root system size (RSS) in eight varieties of mustard and five varieties of phacelia on two locations, in three BBCH phases and in two years. The relationship between RSS and aboveground biomass was inquired. The root system was assessed by measuring its electric capacity. Aboveground mass and root samples to be evaluated by means of a digital image analysis were recovered in the BBCH phase 70. The yield of aboveground biomass of mustard was always statistically significantly higher than that of phacelia. Mustard showed a statistically significant negative correlation between root length density (RLD) within 10 cm and aboveground biomass weight (r = - 0.46*). Phacelia featured a statistically significant correlation between aboveground biomass production and nitrate nitrogen content in soil (r=0.782**).

Keywords: Aboveground Biomass, Cover crop, Nitrogen content, Root system size

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