Biodigestion of Plant material Can Improve Nitrogen Use Efficiency in a Red Beet Crop Sequence

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Biodigestion of Plant material Can Improve Nitrogen Use Efficiency in a Red Beet Crop Sequence

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Publication Article, peer reviewed scientific
Title Biodigestion of Plant material Can Improve Nitrogen Use Efficiency in a Red Beet Crop Sequence
Author(s) Gunnarsson, Anita ; Lindén, Börje ; Gertsson, Ulla
Date 2011
English abstract
Nitrogen (N) tied up in or lost from decomposing biomass decreases the residual N effects of green manure and of other crop residues. During anaerobic degradation in a biogas digestor (biodigestion), N mineralization takes place under conditions in which losses can be kept to a minimum. Therefore, biodigestion of green manure biomass and beet foliage was tested to generate readily available N and compared with a direct green manure fertilization system. The effluent was applied as fertilizer in field experiments on a sandy soil as a tool for improving N supply for an organic farming system. Data from the field experiments were used for simulating the amount of net inorganic N equivalents (inorganic N equivalents from effluent plus inorganic N equivalents from pre-crops) in three crop sequences: A) green manure ley, red beets, winter rye; B) harvested ley, red beets, winter rye; and C) harvested ley, spring barley, red beets in which (B) and (C) represented biogas nutrient management systems and (A) a green manure system. When all available effluent from biogas production from 1 ha of grass–clover ley with two or three harvests (2H-ley or 3H-ley) and one hectare of beet foliage was used as a fertilizer for red beets (Beta vulgaris var. conditiva Alef) after barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), the yield of marketable red beets increased by 5.7 Mg·ha–1 (33%) with effluent from 2H-ley and beet foliage and 9.1 Mg·ha–1 (53%) with effluent from 3H-ley and beet foliage compared with red beets grown without effluent fertilization after a green manure ley. When total dry matter production was taken into account, the advantage for the BG systems with 2H- and 3H-ley was 15% and 28%, respectively. The nitrate concentration in the red beets was not higher with effluent supplied at this level than with green manure as the only N source. The simulated amount of net inorganic N equivalents was 128 kg N for the whole of crop sequence (C) with 1 ha of each crop and where effluent supply to red beets was based on digested biomass in ley and beet tops. The corresponding amount of net inorganic N equivalents for the green manure crop sequence (A), in which no effluent was supplied, was 73 kg N. Unused soil mineral N (0- to 90-cm depth) at red beet harvest indicated that the risk of leaching in BG systems was lower than in GrM systems (88, 76, and 61 kg Nmin/ha left after unmanured beets after Gr-M-ley, low manured beets after 3H-ley and high manured beets after barley, respectively). Effluent fertilization of red beets directly after 2H- and 3H-ley gave unexpectedly low yield responses compared with red beets after barley. The reasons may be the result of nutritional imbalance of other nutrients than N or may be plant pathological in nature. The conclusion is that a nutrient management system with biodigestion can increase net inorganic N equivalents and reduce risk for N leaching, but inappropriate use of the effluent, i.e., at an unsuitable point in the crop rotation, may negate the benefits.
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Publisher American Society for Horticultural Sciences
Host/Issue HortScience;5
Volume 46
ISSN 0018-5345
Pages 765-775
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) anaerobic digestion
Beta vulgaris var. conditiva Alef.
green manure
mixed ley
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