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Methane Yield and Feed Quality Parameters of Mixed Silages from Maize (Zea mays L.) and Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.)


European agricultural policy increasingly focuses on environmental friendly cropping systems. Intercropping of maize (Zea mays L.) and common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) has been suggested as an alternative cropping system with environmental benefits. The aim of this study was to assess methane yield potential of mixed silages. Based on material from two field experiments at three sites in Germany, mixed silages were produced with proportions of individual components varying from 0 to 100 % of fresh matter in increments of 12.5 %. Chemical parameters (neutral detergent fiber (NDF), acid detergent fiber (ADF), crude protein (XP), starch, sugar, and crude fat) were determined, and batch tests were performed to measure methane yield potential from silages. With increasing bean proportion, concentrations of XP increased while NDF, methane yield, and methane content decreased. While methane yield showed a negative relationship with XP content (R 2 = 0.56***), a positive relation was found with NDF (R 2 = 0.55***). The reduction of methane yield of circa 1 L of methane per each additional bean percentage in the silages could not be explained by the chemical parameters of the silages. It is hypothesized that other chemical compounds, such as lectins, which were not determined in the present study, may have influenced methane production.

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Acid detergent fiber


Dry matter


Fresh matter


Neutral detergent fiber


Volatile solids


Crude protein


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Correspondence to Liina Nurk.

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• Multi-site experiment with two different bean cultivars in two different years

• Mixed silages of maize and beans were produced using a replacement series setting with proportions of individual components in the mixture varying from 0 to 100 % of fresh matter

• Strong decline of specific methane yield with increasing bean proportion in silages

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Nurk, L., Graβ, R., Pekrun, C. et al. Methane Yield and Feed Quality Parameters of Mixed Silages from Maize (Zea mays L.) and Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). Bioenerg. Res. 10, 64–73 (2017).

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  • Intercrop silages of maize and beans
  • Biogas batch test
  • Methane yield