, Volume 338, Issue 1-2, pp 83-97

Quality and decomposition in soil of rhizome, root and senescent leaf from Miscanthus x giganteus, as affected by harvest date and N fertilization

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Abstract

To predict the environmental benefits of energy crop production and use, the nature and fate of biomass residues in the soil need to be quantified. Our objective was to quantify Miscanthus x giganteus biomass recycling to soil and to assess how harvesting time and N fertilization affect their characteristics and subsequent biodegradability. The quantification of aerial and belowground biomass and their sampling were performed on 2- and 3-year-old Miscanthus stands, either fertilized with 120 kg N ha−1 year−1 or not fertilized, in autumn (maximal biomass production) and winter (maturity). Plant biomass was chemically characterized (total sugars, Klason lignin, C/N) and incubated in optimum decomposition conditions (15°C, −80 kPa) for 263 days, for C and N mineralization. Accumulation of carbon in rhizomes and roots was 7.5 to 10 t C ha−1 and represented about 50% of total plant biomass C. Senescent leaves represented about 1.5 t C ha−1 year−1. All residues, especially the roots, had high lignin contents, while the rhizomes also had a high soluble content due to their nutrient storage function. The C mineralization rates were closely related to the chemical characteristics of the residue, higher sugar and lower lignin contents leading to faster decomposition, as observed for rhizomes.

Responsible Editor: M. Francesca Cotrufo.