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Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 101, Issue 2, pp 211–222 | Cite as

Nitrous oxide emissions from perennial grass–legume intercrop for bioenergy use

  • Kenedy E. Epie
  • Liisa Saikkonen
  • Arja Santanen
  • Seija Jaakkola
  • Pirjo Mäkelä
  • Asko Simojoki
  • Frederick L. Stoddard
Original Article

Abstract

Bioenergy cropping, like all agricultural practices, may lead to the release of greenhouse gases. This study was aimed at determining biomass and energy yields of reed canary grass (RCG) (Phalaris arundinacea), galega (Galega orientalis) and a mixture of these, and to relate these to fluxes of nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas, emitted from the soils. Plots including a bare fallow as control were established in 2008. Gases emitted from the soil surface were collected in closed chambers from May 2011 to May 2013, except during periods of snow cover, and analysed by gas chromatography. Seasonal and annual cumulative emissions of N2O and CO2 equivalents per unit energy yield were calculated. Soil moisture content, nitrate (NO3 )-N and ammonium (NH4 +)-N were also determined. Both species composition and crop yields affected energy yields and N2O emission from the soil. The annual cumulative emissions from mixture were marginally lower than those from fertilized RCG soils. Fertilized RCG produced twice as much biomass and correspondingly higher nitrogen and energy yields, so its low emission of N2O per Mg of dry matter was not significantly different from that of the mixtures. Cropping an RCG–galega mixture for biofuel may replace N fertilizer input since it resulted in lowering N2O fluxes, but requires management to maintain grass as the major component in order to minimize N2O emissions. In a time of climate change, low-input bioenergy crops may be a suitable strategy for land left uncropped after ploughing for one season or longer.

Keywords

Energy yields Galega Intercropping N fertilizer Nitrous oxide Reed canary grass 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was partly funded by the Academy of Finland Grant 1124435, ‘Carbon-sequestering species mixtures for sustainable energy cropping’ and Legume Futures (Legume-supported cropping systems for Europe), a collaborative research project funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No 245216. The Graduate School for Agricultural Production Sciences of the University of Helsinki, and the Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation are also thanked for their financial support. The authors would also like to express gratitude to Miia Collander and Markku Tykkyläinen for technical assistance.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenedy E. Epie
    • 1
  • Liisa Saikkonen
    • 3
  • Arja Santanen
    • 1
  • Seija Jaakkola
    • 1
  • Pirjo Mäkelä
    • 1
  • Asko Simojoki
    • 2
  • Frederick L. Stoddard
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of Food and Environmental SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.Department of Economics and ManagementUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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