Agricultural Biomass for Bioenergy and Bioproducts

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Agricultural Biosystem and Biological Engineering".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2024) | Viewed by 9979

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Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), Istituto per la BioEconomia (IBE), 95126 Catania, Italy
Interests: seed germination; abiotic stresses; deficit irrigation; agronomy; crop management; energy biomass crops
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Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Catania, Catania, Italy
Interests: agronomy; crop production; biomass crops; bioenergy and bioproducts; crop physiology and modeling; crop management; agrometeorology
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Nowadays, biomass is making a key energy contribution all over the world, supplying over 15% of total energy consumption. Biomass energy mostly derives from steam production by the pulp and paper industry and electrical generation, e.g., with forest industry residues. However, agricultural biomass has great potential to also provide feedstocks to make a wide range of chemicals and raw materials for paper, textiles, colorants, food industries, green buildings, panel furniture, etc. (bioproducts). Agriculture-derived biomass resources account for nearly 25% of the current biomass consumption, and all croplands are assumed to be potential contributors to agriculturally derived biomass feedstocks. This amount of biomass, however, is small in relation to currently available agricultural biomass resources. With improved cropping practices and technologies, significant amounts of agricultural biomasses could be sustainably produced.

This Special Issue will focus on “Agricultural Biomass for Bioenergy and Bioproducts”. We invite authors to contribute to the Special Issue with novel research articles and reviews covering all topics (fertilization, water-saving strategies, landrace exploitation, modeling, climate adaptation, biomass quality, etc.) in agricultural biomass production. Articles concerning the adoption of new technologies applied to agricultural biomass production are also welcome.

Papers submitted to this Special Issue will be subject to peer review in order to allow rapid dissemination of results.

Dr. Cristina Patanè
Prof. Dr. Salvatore Cosentino
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • agronomic management
  • bioenergy
  • biomass crops
  • bioproducts

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

27 pages, 1411 KiB  
Article
Assessment of the Characteristics of Corncobs Used for Energy Needs
by Tautvydė Dorofėjūtė, Simona Paulikienė, Tomas Ūksas, Egidijus Zvicevičius, Kęstutis Žiūra and Kristina Lekavičienė
Agronomy 2024, 14(6), 1127; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14061127 - 24 May 2024
Viewed by 486
Abstract
Due to environmental pollution and global warming, the use of renewable energy sources such as agricultural residues is gaining attention. Corn is the main source of food in many countries, and after harvesting it, the agricultural and industrial sectors generate significant amounts of [...] Read more.
Due to environmental pollution and global warming, the use of renewable energy sources such as agricultural residues is gaining attention. Corn is the main source of food in many countries, and after harvesting it, the agricultural and industrial sectors generate significant amounts of residues. This study focused on corncob processing, its preparation, and the evaluation of its characteristics for energy needs. There was no significant difference between drying with active ventilation in the dryer and outdoor drying conditions. The adequate moisture content of corncob pellets is 12.39% at a compression ratio of 3.43 ± 0.011 and a maximum pellet density of 1012.96 ± 3.35 kg m−3. The variation in pellet density at a given adequate moisture content is at least 0.78%. The compression ratio of the pellets compacted on the horizontal matrix granulator is 9.75% higher than that of the pellets produced on the laboratory automatic press. The corncob’s lower calorific value was 17.35 ± 0.14 MJ kg−1, and the ash content was 1.78 ± 0.24%. The produced pellets are strong enough and can be used for combustion. This research may help to better understand the properties of corncobs and their energy potential. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Biomass for Bioenergy and Bioproducts)
13 pages, 1650 KiB  
Article
Characterization of Three Sugarcane Varieties as Agro-Residue for Bioenergy Use in the Ecuadorian Andes
by Juan García-Montoya, Omar Quinteros, Gabriel Chimbo-Yépez, Luis Álvarez and Borja Velázquez-Martí
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 2967; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13122967 - 30 Nov 2023
Viewed by 996
Abstract
There is a growing trend toward the use of renewable sources to produce clean energy and mitigate the effects of climate change. Second-generation lignocellulose biomasses, such as agro-residues, comprise a potential energy source as a byproduct of agriculture. Ecuador has optimal climate conditions [...] Read more.
There is a growing trend toward the use of renewable sources to produce clean energy and mitigate the effects of climate change. Second-generation lignocellulose biomasses, such as agro-residues, comprise a potential energy source as a byproduct of agriculture. Ecuador has optimal climate conditions that allow for the cultivation of different types of crops. This makes agriculture a relevant economic activity in the country; however, the residues obtained from agriculture have not been investigated for the establishment of a bioenergy industry. This study evaluated the potential of three varieties of sugarcane bagasse, named PR 980, CC 85-92, and CB 40-59, for bioenergy production in the Ecuadorian Andes. The bagasse was quantified by means of weighing, and then evaluated via calorimetry and thermogravimetric analysis as well as proximal and elemental analysis. The results showed that these materials met the criteria for direct combustion, exhibiting both a low nitrogen content of 0.30 ± 0.12% and ash values of 6.20 ± 1.20%. Among the analyzed varieties, CB 40-69 stood out as the most suitable for power generation within the cogeneration system; this was attributed to its superior dry calorific value of 17.37 ± 1.45 MJ kg−1, greater presence of volatile materials, and negligible ash content. Variety CB 40-69 (157.91 t ha−1) reported the highest biomass and bagasse production (56.32 t ha−1). Analysis of the SCB structure concluded that the three varieties did not differ significantly in their contents of lignin, hemicellulose, and cellulose, which is essential to implementing an industrial process for bioethanol production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Biomass for Bioenergy and Bioproducts)
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12 pages, 2457 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Germination Response to Salinity Stress in Castor through the Hydrotime Model
by Valeria Cafaro, Efthymia Alexopoulou, Salvatore Luciano Cosentino and Cristina Patanè
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2783; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112783 - 9 Nov 2023
Viewed by 865
Abstract
Germination of castor seeds from five dwarf hybrid genotypes, compared to a ‘Local’ genotype selected by the University of Catania from a Tunisian population well adapted to the Mediterranean environment, was studied at five different salt levels (0, −0.3, −0.6, −0.9, and −1.2 [...] Read more.
Germination of castor seeds from five dwarf hybrid genotypes, compared to a ‘Local’ genotype selected by the University of Catania from a Tunisian population well adapted to the Mediterranean environment, was studied at five different salt levels (0, −0.3, −0.6, −0.9, and −1.2 MPa) in order to assess seed germination performance under stress conditions. The results confirmed that optimum moisture (0 MPa) ensured 100% of germination; on the contrary, salt concentration negatively influenced the final germination percentage (FGP) and radicle elongation, causing severe consequences for plant establishment. At a level of −1.2 MPa, no germination occurred, while a level of −0.3 MPa slightly affected the seed germination of the dwarf genotypes, which achieved 77.3% of germination, contrary to the ‘Local’ genotype, in which germination was kept stable. Higher levels of salt (−0.6 and −0.9 MPa) caused a linear decrease in FGP and radicle elongation. Overall, the dwarf hybrid ‘C1019’ performed better at higher salt impositions, as did ‘C857’, confirming these genotypes were the most tolerant among the dwarf hybrids. Conversely, ‘C1013’ turned out to be the most susceptible genotype, followed by ‘C1008’. On the other hand, the ‘Local’ castor genotype was the best-performing genotype at −0.3 MPa and the most tolerant genotype in terms of salt concentration and germination time, which were accurately predicted by the hydrotime model, validating it as a valid method of assessing the germination response of castor seeds to Ψ. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Biomass for Bioenergy and Bioproducts)
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23 pages, 3669 KiB  
Article
Effect of Legumes Intercropped with Maize on Biomass Yield and Subsequent Biogas Production
by Antonín Kintl, Igor Huňady, Tomáš Vítěz, Martin Brtnický, Julie Sobotková, Tereza Hammerschmiedt, Monika Vítězová, Jiří Holátko, Vladimír Smutný and Jakub Elbl
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2775; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112775 - 7 Nov 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 974
Abstract
The presented study deals with the use of legumes intercropped with maize for the production of biogas from silage. The main goal was to find out whether silages made from mixed cultures can be used in biogas production and how the use of [...] Read more.
The presented study deals with the use of legumes intercropped with maize for the production of biogas from silage. The main goal was to find out whether silages made from mixed cultures can be used in biogas production and how the use of such silages affects qualitative and quantitative parameters of the fermentation process compared with the pure maize silage. Variants prepared were pure cultures of maize, bean, lupin, and white sweet clover. In addition, mixed cultures were prepared of maize and individual legumes. Measured values showed that in terms of dry matter (DM) yield, mixed culture silages are almost of the same or even better quality than silage made from the maize monosubstrate. Compared with the maize monoculture silage, the presence of white lupine, white sweet clover, and broad bean in silages statistically significantly increased the content of DM, ash, and acid detergent fiber (by more than 5%). Bean and lupine in mixed silages with maize significantly increased the content of lipids (on average by more than 1.2%). Legumes in silages were significantly decreasing contents of neutral detergent fiber, crude protein, and starch. Production of biogas from silages of maize monosubstrates and mixed substrates of maize with white lupin, maize with white sweet clover, and maize with broad bean was directly proportional to the content of CAR and starch in these substrates. A perspective variant was the mixed substrate of maize and sweet clover from which biogas production was only 6% lower than that from conventional maize silage. The highest yield was recorded in the maize monosubstrate (0.923 m3/kgVS). Variants of mixed substrates had a yield ranging from 0.804 to 0.840 m3/kgVS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Biomass for Bioenergy and Bioproducts)
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14 pages, 3493 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of the Intermediate Values of the TGA Curves as Indicators of the Proximal Analysis of Biomass
by Borja Velázquez Martí, Juan Gaibor-Chavez, Isabel López Cortés and Luis Eduardo Olivares Aguilar
Agronomy 2023, 13(10), 2552; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13102552 - 3 Oct 2023
Viewed by 935
Abstract
Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) is becoming popular for the evaluation of biomass to determine the content of ashes, volatiles, and fixed carbon and to simulate pyrolysis, gasification, and combustion processes. This analysis consists of heating a sample recording the weight variation as the temperature [...] Read more.
Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) is becoming popular for the evaluation of biomass to determine the content of ashes, volatiles, and fixed carbon and to simulate pyrolysis, gasification, and combustion processes. This analysis consists of heating a sample recording the weight variation as the temperature increases over time. The final temperature of the analyzes is usually set at 550 °C or 900 °C. The aim of this paper is to use the intermediate weight values obtained in short times from heating process in TGA to calculate the percentage of volatile, ash, or the residual mass remaining at the end of the experiment. Under the hypothesis that the curve does not vary when the analysis is carried out under certain conditions for the same type of biomass, these values must be similar and are related to the searched values. Nevertheless, given that the behavior of the thermogravimetric curves can be influenced by different factors, such as the species, temperature variation with time, final temperature reached, and presence of leaves, these factors are analyzed in this article. The results show models developed for the ash and volatiles determination from TGA time reduced to 75 s when a temperature increase of 200 °C per minute is used (CR-200 and VR-200 models). The curves obtained have R2 coefficients of between 0.75 and 0.95, being validated through independent samples. It is shown that the plot of the curve is influenced by the composition, the rate of heating and the percentage of leaves. This variability makes it necessary to select an analytical method that is efficient and as brief as possible. In this article, rapid analyses combined with the application of the equations obtained are proposed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Biomass for Bioenergy and Bioproducts)
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13 pages, 670 KiB  
Article
The Energy and Environmental Evaluation of Maize, Hemp and Faba Bean Multi-Crops
by Kęstutis Romaneckas, Austėja Švereikaitė, Rasa Kimbirauskienė, Aušra Sinkevičienė and Jovita Balandaitė
Agronomy 2023, 13(9), 2316; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13092316 - 4 Sep 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 920
Abstract
Agriculture uses a lot of fuel, fertilizers, pesticides and other substances, while emitting large amounts of GHGs. It is important to optimize these inputs and outputs. One such way is by increasing crop biodiversity. For this reason, single crops and mixtures of maize, [...] Read more.
Agriculture uses a lot of fuel, fertilizers, pesticides and other substances, while emitting large amounts of GHGs. It is important to optimize these inputs and outputs. One such way is by increasing crop biodiversity. For this reason, single crops and mixtures of maize, hemp and faba bean as binary and ternary crops were investigated at the Experimental Station of Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania. The results showed that consumption of diesel fuel was 31–46% higher than in single and 22–35% higher than in binary cultivations was found in a ternary crop. This had influence on the highest energy input of near twice higher than in maize and hemp single crops and maize+hemp binary crop, but similar with binary crops with faba bean. Despite this, the productivity of the ternary crop and, at the same time, the energy output were 2–5 times higher than in other treatments. This compensated for higher energy inputs and the energy efficiency ratio. In the ternary crop, energy productivity was from 1.1 to 2.8 times higher and net energy was 1.9–5.3 times higher than in other tested cultivations. The highest total GHG emissions were obtained in binary maize+hemp and maize+faba bean cultivations (1729.84 and 2067.33 CO2eq ha−1). Ternary cultivation with the highest energy inputs initiated average GHG emissions of 1541.90 kg ha−1 CO2eq. For higher efficiency, the ternary crop could be sown and harvested in one machine pass. Faba beans should be included in ternary crops, as their biomass makes up a significant part of the total biomass produced. We recommend reviewing the intercropped faba bean seeding rates, as faba bean seeds have a high energy input equivalent. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Biomass for Bioenergy and Bioproducts)
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13 pages, 979 KiB  
Article
Leaf Area Duration and Crop Radiation Use Efficiency Determine Biomass Yield of Lignocellulosic Perennial Grasses under Different Soil Water Content
by Sebastiano Andrea Corinzia, Elena Crapio, Giorgio Testa, Salvatore L. Cosentino, Cristina Patanè and Danilo Scordia
Agronomy 2023, 13(9), 2270; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13092270 - 29 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1101
Abstract
The aim of the present work was to assess the leaf area duration (LAD) and the radiation use efficiency (RUE) of six warm-season perennial biomass grasses (PBGs) in a two-year field trial in the semiarid Mediterranean climate under different soil water availability. Two [...] Read more.
The aim of the present work was to assess the leaf area duration (LAD) and the radiation use efficiency (RUE) of six warm-season perennial biomass grasses (PBGs) in a two-year field trial in the semiarid Mediterranean climate under different soil water availability. Two ecotypes of giant reed (Arundo donax L., ARCT and ARMO), one ecotype of African fodder cane (Saccharum spontaneum L. subsp. aegyptiacum (Willd.) Hack., SAC) and three hybrids of Miscanthus (the commercial M. × giganteus J.M. Greef, Deuter ex Hodk., Renvoize, M × G, and two new seed-based hybrids, GNT9 and GNT10) were compared under three levels of soil water availability: rainfed, 50% and 100% of maximum crop evapotranspiration (ETm) restoration. The determination of RUE of perennial plants is controversial and has led to contrasting results in past studies. In the present work, LAD and RUE differed among crops and irrigation regimes, being positively affected by supplemental water inputs. SAC, ARCT and ARMO showed both high LAD and RUE, which determined the high biomass yield than both the commercial M × G and the improved Miscanthus hybrids GNT9 and GNT10. RUE was particularly high and less affected by soil water availability during the mid-season, while the effect of irrigation and the differences among the genotypes were larger during the late season. Adequate biomass yield can be achieved by sub-optimal soil water availability, thus reducing the water footprint and increasing the sustainability of these biomass perennial grasses selected for the Mediterranean climate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Biomass for Bioenergy and Bioproducts)
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17 pages, 2226 KiB  
Article
Effects of Sowing Dates and Genotypes of Castor (Ricinus communis L.) on Seed Yield and Oil Content in the South Mediterranean Basin
by Valeria Cafaro, Silvio Calcagno, Cristina Patanè, Salvatore Luciano Cosentino and Giorgio Testa
Agronomy 2023, 13(8), 2167; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13082167 - 18 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1070
Abstract
To evaluate the performance of dwarf castor hybrids (‘C1012’, ‘C857’, ‘C856’), compared to a local selected genotype, in four subsequent sowing dates (SW1, SW2, SW3, SW4), a trial was conducted at the experimental farm of the University of Catania (Sicily, Italy). The length [...] Read more.
To evaluate the performance of dwarf castor hybrids (‘C1012’, ‘C857’, ‘C856’), compared to a local selected genotype, in four subsequent sowing dates (SW1, SW2, SW3, SW4), a trial was conducted at the experimental farm of the University of Catania (Sicily, Italy). The length of the growing season decreased with the increase of the sowing date in the average genotypes from 160 to 94 days, respectively, for the first and the last sowing date. According to the RED—Renewable Energy Directive, the genotype ‘C856’ was the earliest (112 days), resulting in suitability as a catch crop for biomass production. The results showed that early spring sowings negatively impact dwarf hybrid production (1.2 and 1.5 Mg ha−1 in SW1 and SW2, in the average of the three hybrids), which reached the highest yield in the third sowing date (2.0 Mg ha−1), preferring warmer temperatures for the germination of seeds. On the contrary, the ‘Local’ genotype reached the highest yield (1.6 Mg ha−1) in the first sowing date and linearly decreased in the subsequent ones. Nonetheless, the third sowing date positively influenced the oil content and the oil yield in all dwarf genotypes except the ‘Local’ genotype, which showed the highest oil yield in the first sowing date. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Biomass for Bioenergy and Bioproducts)
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18 pages, 2733 KiB  
Article
Seed Germination of Two Hybrids Obtained via Cross-Pollination between Miscanthus sinensis × Miscanthus sacchariflorus
by Cristina Patanè, Alessandro Saita, Salvatore L. Cosentino, Antonella Iurato and Giorgio Testa
Agronomy 2023, 13(5), 1350; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13051350 - 11 May 2023
Viewed by 1467
Abstract
To date, economically and energy-costly vegetative propagation using rhizomes and tissue culture are the only options for the cultivation of Miscanthus spp. Some genotypes of miscanthus produce fertile seeds, offering a valid alternative to vegetative propagation. A preliminary study has been conducted on [...] Read more.
To date, economically and energy-costly vegetative propagation using rhizomes and tissue culture are the only options for the cultivation of Miscanthus spp. Some genotypes of miscanthus produce fertile seeds, offering a valid alternative to vegetative propagation. A preliminary study has been conducted on the seeds of two hybrids of miscanthus obtained via interspecific cross-pollination between M. sacchariflorus and M. sinensis: ‘GRC14’ (maternal: M. sacchariflorus) and ‘GRC10B’ (maternal: M. sinensis). Seeds were assessed for germination traits in a laboratory (at 25 °C in the dark) just after panicle harvest, and during 1-year storage at room temperature or at 8 °C. In a second experiment, the effects of gibberellic acid (GA3) solution at different concentrations (0, 50, 100, 300, 500 ppm) on the germination of freshly matured seeds were assessed. Poor germination just after harvest (<30%) indicates the occurrence of a physiological dormancy. Indeed, two months later, germination rose up to 76.7% in ‘GRC14’ and 50.8%, in ‘GRC10B’, and peaked at 95.6% in ‘GRC14’ and at 78% in ‘GRC10B’, 6 months after harvest. After a total of 12 months, germination was significantly reduced in both hybrids (≈60%). Seeds stored at room temperature lost dormancy earlier than those stored at 8 °C. Overall, germination was significantly improved by GA3, but the extent of the GA effect was genotype-dependent. In conclusion, a low establishment rate may result from direct seeding when fresh seed is used in the field. In this case, the use of GA3 is a possible strategy to ameliorate the impact of dormancy on seed germination. In the case of delayed sowings in late winter–early spring, seeds stored at room temperature after harvest may better perform than those stored at 8 °C. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Biomass for Bioenergy and Bioproducts)
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