Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Nitrate Leaching, and Biomass Yields from Production of Miscanthus × giganteus in Illinois, USA
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- Behnke, G.D., David, M.B. & Voigt, T.B. Bioenerg. Res. (2012) 5: 801. doi:10.1007/s12155-012-9191-5
Understanding the effects of nitrogen (N) fertilization on Miscanthus × giganteus greenhouse gas emissions, nitrate leaching, and biomass production is an important consideration when using this grass as a biomass feedstock. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of three N fertilization rates (0, 60, and 120 kg N ha−1 using urea as the N source) on nitrous oxide (N2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, nitrogen leaching, and the biomass yields and N content of M. × giganteus planted in July 2008, and evaluated from 2009 through early 2011 in Urbana, Illinois, USA. While there was no biomass yield response to N fertilization rates in 2009 and 2010, the amount of N in the harvested biomass in 2010 was significantly greater at the 60 and 120 kg N ha−1 N rates. There was no significant CO2 emission response to N rates in 2009 or 2010. Similarly, N fertilization did not increase cumulative N2O emissions in 2009, but cumulative N2O emissions did increase in 2010 with N fertilization. During 2009, nitrate (NO3−) leaching at the 50-cm soil depth was not related to fertilization rate, but there was a significant increase in NO3− leaching between the 0 and 120 kg N ha−1 treatments in 2010 (8.9 and 28.9 kg NO3–N ha−1 year−1, respectively). Overall, N fertilization of M. × giganteus led to N2O releases, increased fluxes of inorganic N (primarily NO3−) through the soil profile; and increased harvested N without a significant increase in biomass production.