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Improving the Ecological Performance of Miscanthus (Miscanthus × giganteus Greef et Deuter) through Intercropping with Woad (Isatis tinctoria L.) and Yellow Melilot (Melilotus officinalis L.)

1
Department of Biobased Products and Energy Crops (340b), Institute of Crop Science, University of Hohenheim, Fruwirthstr. 23, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany
2
College of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Hunan Agricultural University, Changsha 410128, Hunan, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 194; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090194
Received: 31 July 2019 / Revised: 29 August 2019 / Accepted: 3 September 2019 / Published: 6 September 2019
Miscanthus is a promising high-yielding and low-input perennial biomass crop. However, as miscanthus does not produce nectar, it provides less support for pollinators than other perennial biomass crops, such as cup plant, Virginia mallow, or wild plant mixtures. This study discusses whether miscanthus could be intercropped with flower-rich biennial wild plants to further enhance its ecological functioning. In 2017, a demonstration plot was established in southwest Germany with two miscanthus intercropping regimes: woad (WAM) and yellow melilot (YAM). Both woad and melilot reached full bloom in 2018, the second year of cultivation. The flowering period of woad started and ended earlier than that of melilot. Woad remained harvestable until spring 2019, whereas the aboveground melilot was destroyed by brown hare in autumn 2018. However, the shed seeds of melilot reemerged homogeneously in 2019. The miscanthus developed better in YAM than WAM. This was most likely due to (i) stronger competition for water, nutrients, and light in WAM and (ii) nitrogen fixation advantage in melilot. These results indicate that the ecological performance of miscanthus could be improved by intercropping with melilot. Thus, we propose to further investigate the effects of intercropping on both the productivity and quality of miscanthus biomass. View Full-Text
Keywords: biennial crop; bioeconomy; biodiversity; bioenergy cropping system; biomass production; diversification; legume; perennial crop; wild plant biennial crop; bioeconomy; biodiversity; bioenergy cropping system; biomass production; diversification; legume; perennial crop; wild plant
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von Cossel, M.; Iqbal, Y.; Lewandowski, I. Improving the Ecological Performance of Miscanthus (Miscanthus × giganteus Greef et Deuter) through Intercropping with Woad (Isatis tinctoria L.) and Yellow Melilot (Melilotus officinalis L.). Agriculture 2019, 9, 194.

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