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Article

Effects of Organic Energy Crop Rotations and Fertilisation with the Liquid Digestate Phase on Organic Carbon in the Topsoil

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Chair of Organic Agriculture and Agronomy, Technical University of Munich, Liesel-Beckmann-Str. 2, 85354 Freising, Germany
2
Aquatic Systems Biology Unit, Technical University of Munich, Alte Akademie 12, 85354 Freising, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Alwyn Williams and Hailin Zhang
Agronomy 2021, 11(7), 1393; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11071393
Received: 22 May 2021 / Revised: 17 June 2021 / Accepted: 4 July 2021 / Published: 10 July 2021
Combining organic farming and biogas production from agricultural feedstocks has been suggested as a way of achieving carbon (C) neutrality in Europe. However, as the long-term effects of C removal for methane production on soil organic carbon (SOC) are unclear, organic farmers in particular have questioned whether farm biogas production will have a positive effect on soil fertility. Eight years of data from an organic long-term field trial involving digestate fertilisation and various crop rotations (CRs) with differing proportions of clover-grass leys were used to calculate C inputs based on the CANDY model, and these modelled changes compared with measured changes in SOC content (SOCc) over the same period. Measured SOCc increased by nearly 20% over the eight years. Digestate fertilisation significantly increased SOCc. Fertilised plots with the highest proportion of clover-grass in the CR had the highest SOCc. The C inputs from clover-grass leys, even if they only made up 25% of the CR, were high enough to increase SOCc, even with the removal of all aboveground biomass and without fertilisation. Our results show that biogas production based on clover-grass leys could be an important part of sustainable farming, improving or maintaining SOCc and improving nutrient flows, particularly in organic farming, while simultaneously providing renewable energy. View Full-Text
Keywords: biogas; ley; organic agriculture; carbon input; clover-grass; digestate biogas; ley; organic agriculture; carbon input; clover-grass; digestate
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MDPI and ACS Style

Levin, K.S.; Auerswald, K.; Reents, H.J.; Hülsbergen, K.-J. Effects of Organic Energy Crop Rotations and Fertilisation with the Liquid Digestate Phase on Organic Carbon in the Topsoil. Agronomy 2021, 11, 1393. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11071393

AMA Style

Levin KS, Auerswald K, Reents HJ, Hülsbergen K-J. Effects of Organic Energy Crop Rotations and Fertilisation with the Liquid Digestate Phase on Organic Carbon in the Topsoil. Agronomy. 2021; 11(7):1393. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11071393

Chicago/Turabian Style

Levin, Karin S., Karl Auerswald, Hans J. Reents, and Kurt-Jürgen Hülsbergen. 2021. "Effects of Organic Energy Crop Rotations and Fertilisation with the Liquid Digestate Phase on Organic Carbon in the Topsoil" Agronomy 11, no. 7: 1393. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11071393

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