Special Issue "Forage and Bioenergy Crops"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 August 2018).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Marisol Berti
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Plant Sciences, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 58108, USA
Interests: forages; cover crops; biomass crop production
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Both forage and bioenergy crops are increasing in importance in the world. The increased demand of high protein foods (dairy products, meat, and eggs) especially in China has increased the interest in growing forages to supply their high demand for high protein foods.  Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) is the number one forage in the world but many other perennial and annual legumes, grasses, and forbs are of local importance. Also, forages, especially perennial legumes reduce greenhouse gases emissions, by reducing fertilizer use and tillage.  Investment on research of forages has been much less than in other food crops, thus forage crops have not reached their production potential.

Bioenergy crops production increased in the last decade in an effort to replace fossil fuels.  Numerous species have been evaluated as feedstocks for energy production. Many of these species are common forages, now with a new purpose (i.e. switchgrass, reed canarygrass, forage sorghum).

This special issue will focus on “Forages and Bioenergy Crops”.  We welcome novel research and reviews covering all related topics in forages and bioenergy crops, including crop genetics and improvement, production management, forage quality, novel crops, soil fertility and microbiology, soil-plant interaction, phytopathology, crop physiology, modelling, life cycle assessment, economics and marketing, and policy.

Prof. Marisol Berti
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • forages management
  • bioenergy crops
  • forage genetics
  • forage quality
  • soil-plant interaction
  • life cycle assessment

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Szarvasi-1 and Its Potential to Become a Substitute for Maize Which Is Grown for the Purposes of Biogas Plants in the Czech Republic
Agronomy 2019, 9(2), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9020098 - 19 Feb 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The domestic biogas market has been developing rapidly, and legislation (The Act) supporting the use of renewable energy sources has come into force. In light of this act and investment support from national programs co-financed by the European Union (EU), the total number [...] Read more.
The domestic biogas market has been developing rapidly, and legislation (The Act) supporting the use of renewable energy sources has come into force. In light of this act and investment support from national programs co-financed by the European Union (EU), the total number of biogas plants has recently increased from a few to 600. The total capacity of electricity generation of those 600 installed plants exceeds 360 Megawatts (MW) (as of mid-2018). Such dynamic growth is expected to continue, and the targets of the National Renewable Energy Action Plan are projected to be met. The use of waste material, which was urgently needed, was the original aim of biogas plants. However, in certain cases, the original purpose has transformed, and phytomass is very often derived from purpose-grown energy crops. Maize is the most common and widely grown energy crop in the Czech Republic. Nevertheless, maize production raises several environmental issues. One way to potentially reduce maize’s harmful effects is to replace it with other suitable crops. Perennial energy crops, for example, are possible alternatives to maize. A newly introduced species for the conditions of the Czech Republic, Elymus elongatus subsp. ponticus cv. Szarvasi-1, and some other well-known species—Phalaris arundinacea L. and Miscanthus × giganteus—are suitable for Czech Republic climate conditions. This paper presents the findings of the research and evaluation of environmental, energy-related, and economic aspects of growing these crops for use in biogas plants. These findings are based on 5-year small-plot field trials. The energy-related aspects of producing Elymus elongatus subsp. ponticus cv. Szarvasi-1, Phalaris arundinacea L., and Miscanthus x giganteus are reported on the basis of experiments that included measuring the real methane yield from a production unit. The economic analysis is based on a model of every single growing and technological operation and costs. The environmental burden of the individual growing methods was assessed with a simplified life cycle assessment (LCA) using the impact category of Climate Change and the SimaPro 8.5.2.0 software tool, including an integrated method called ReCiPe. The research findings show that Szarvasi-1 produces 5.7–6.7 Euros (EUR) per Gigajoule (GJ) of energy, depending on the growing technology used. Szarvasi-1 generates an average energy profit of 101.4 GJ ha−1, which is half of that produced by maize (214.1 GJ ha−1). The environmental burden per energy unit of maize amounts to 16 kg of carbon dioxide eq GJ−1 compared with the environmental burden per energy unit of Szarvasi-1, which amounts to 7.2–15.6 kg of CO2 eq GJ−1, depending on the yield rate. On the basis of the above-mentioned yield rate of Szarvasi-1, it cannot be definitively recommended for the purpose of biogas plants in the Czech Republic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forage and Bioenergy Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Forage Warm-Season Legumes and Grasses Intercropped with Corn as an Alternative for Corn Silage Production
Agronomy 2018, 8(10), 199; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8100199 - 21 Sep 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Intercropping of forage grasses and legumes can increase forage productivity and nutritive value; however, intercropping of corn with warm-season forages has not yet been studied in southeast U.S., thus requiring more information. The purpose of this study was to determine the yield and [...] Read more.
Intercropping of forage grasses and legumes can increase forage productivity and nutritive value; however, intercropping of corn with warm-season forages has not yet been studied in southeast U.S., thus requiring more information. The purpose of this study was to determine the yield and nutritive value potential of warm-season annual forages intercropped with corn (Zea mays L.) for silage production. Crabgrass [Digitaria sanguinalis (L.)] is considered a weed for corn production systems; however, our study shows that if crabgrass is interseeded with corn, it does not compete for resources and can maintain high corn yields. Forage mass for sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea L.) was higher than that of cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.] and crabgrass in 2016, due to a drought in spring and summer, giving sunn hemp a competitive advantage. Crude protein content was higher for cowpea as compared to crabgrass and sunn hemp, due to cowpea’s ability to maintain its vegetative stage and high N-fixation, when compared to crabgrass and sunn hemp. Despite differences in the mass of the intercropped forages, the total herbage mass of the produced silage did not differ in 2016 and 2017. Intercropped forages can be harvested and ensiled with corn for silage production or can be left with the corn residue after harvesting to be grazed on in integrated crop-livestock systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forage and Bioenergy Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Adaptability and Forage Characterization of Finger Millet Accessions in U.S. Southern Great Plains
Agronomy 2018, 8(9), 177; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8090177 - 10 Sep 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Low forage quality of available perennial warm-season grasses during mid-summer through late summer affects the production of stocker cattle in the U.S. Southern Great Plains (SGP). Finger millet (Eleusine coracana Gaertn L.), which is a drought tolerant annual grass, could be a [...] Read more.
Low forage quality of available perennial warm-season grasses during mid-summer through late summer affects the production of stocker cattle in the U.S. Southern Great Plains (SGP). Finger millet (Eleusine coracana Gaertn L.), which is a drought tolerant annual grass, could be a promising forage for the SGP. This field study assessed the adaptability and forage characteristics of 11 finger millet accessions originally sourced (1964–1981) from different parts of the world. Results of this study suggested that finger millet can generate forage yields ranging from 5.0 to 12.3 Mg ha−1 165 days after planting. Finger millet forage contained 105 to 156 g kg−1 crude protein, 598 to 734 g kg−1 neutral detergent fiber, 268 to 382 g kg−1 acid detergent fiber, 597 to 730 g kg−1 in vitro true digestibility, and 387 to 552 g kg−1 neutral detergent fiber digestibility. Ten of the 11 accessions flowered and produced grains with yields varying from 60 to 1636 kg ha−1. Overall, finger millet has the potential to serve as an alternative crop for the production of forage and possibly grain in the SGP. Further research needs to be focused on developing strategies for agronomic management and evaluating the capacity of finger millet under different grazing and hay production settings in the SGP. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forage and Bioenergy Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
How Does Sowing Rate Affect Plant and Stem Density, Forage Yield, and Nutritive Value in Glyphosate-Tolerant Alfalfa?
Agronomy 2018, 8(9), 169; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8090169 - 30 Aug 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
The recommended sowing rate of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) is about 10 kg pure live seed ha−1, but it is debated if increasing the sowing rate enhances forage yield and quality in the sowing year. This study was conducted to: [...] Read more.
The recommended sowing rate of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) is about 10 kg pure live seed ha−1, but it is debated if increasing the sowing rate enhances forage yield and quality in the sowing year. This study was conducted to: (i) determine the optimal sowing rate to maximize forage yield; and (ii) determine the relationship between plant and stem density with forage yield and nutritive value. Experiments were conducted at three sites in North Dakota between 2013 and 2016. Six sowing rates [1, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 kg ha−1 pure live seed (PLS)] were evaluated. Results indicated that total forage yield in the sowing year was lower only with the lowest sowing rate. Maximum total forage yield in the sowing, first, second, and third production years was obtained with 73, 52, 37, and 36 plants m−2 and 575, 495, 435, and 427 stems m−2, respectively. In the sowing and first production year, both plant and stem density predicted forage yield similarly. In older stands, stem density predicted forage yield slightly better. Forage nutritive value was similar among sowing rates indicating an increase in sowing rate does not enhance forage nutritive value. In conclusion, increasing the sowing rate above the recommended rate (10 kg PLS ha−1) does not increase forage yield or quality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forage and Bioenergy Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Biomass Production and Composition of Temperate and Tropical Maize in Central Iowa
Agronomy 2018, 8(6), 88; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8060088 - 01 Jun 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Bioethanol production in the midwestern U.S. has largely focused on maize (Zea mays L.) grain for starch-based ethanol production. There has been growing interest in lignocellulosic biomass as a feedstock for biofuels. Because maize adapted to the tropics does not initiate senescence [...] Read more.
Bioethanol production in the midwestern U.S. has largely focused on maize (Zea mays L.) grain for starch-based ethanol production. There has been growing interest in lignocellulosic biomass as a feedstock for biofuels. Because maize adapted to the tropics does not initiate senescence as early as temperate-adapted maize, using a tropical germplasm could improve biomass yield. This study compares the suitability of temperate and tropical maize with differing relative maturities as feedstocks for bioethanol production. Field trials were established in central Iowa during the 2014 and 2015 growing seasons. Six hybrids of different relative maturities were grown at two levels of N fertilization and two row spacings to evaluate total biomass production and feedstock quality under midwestern U.S. conditions. Total biomass, height at the final leaf collar, stem diameter at one meter above ground, and lignocellulose concentration were measured at harvest. Tropical maize was taller and had greater non-grain and total biomass production (15% more than temperate maize), while temperate maize had greater grain yield and grain starch, as well as earlier maturation. Narrower row spacing had greater biomass and grain yield. Nitrogen fertilization rate affected grain and feedstock composition. Tropical maize had lower cellulose, lignin, and ash concentrations and higher nitrogen at harvest than that of temperate maize. Conversely, temperate maize had greater ash, cellulose, and lignin concentrations. Tropical maize planted at high densities has high potential as a feedstock for bioethanol production in the U.S. Midwest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forage and Bioenergy Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Variation of Agronomic Traits of Ravenna Grass and Its Potential as a Biomass Crop
Agronomy 2018, 8(5), 70; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8050070 - 12 May 2018
Abstract
Ravenna grass (Tripidium ravennae) is a tall robust bunchgrass with potential as an energy crop. The aim was to investigate the variation of agronomic traits of Ravenna grass. Univariate analyses of traits were conducted on 95 plants from 2013 to 2017. [...] Read more.
Ravenna grass (Tripidium ravennae) is a tall robust bunchgrass with potential as an energy crop. The aim was to investigate the variation of agronomic traits of Ravenna grass. Univariate analyses of traits were conducted on 95 plants from 2013 to 2017. The traits were: biomass yield per plant; C, N, and ash concentrations; leaf and culm sap sucrose concentrations; percentage seed set, and the number of caryopses per panicle. In 2013, the biomass yield averaged 0.21 ± 0.09 kg per plant (mean ± the standard deviation). In 2014 to 2017, the yield averaged from 3.9 ± 0.8 kg per plant to 7.5 ± 1.8 kg per plant. Carbon concentration was generally higher than other energy crops, while N and ash concentrations were generally lower. Leaf sap sucrose ranged from 24.4 ± 4.6 g kg−1 in 2016 to 41.6 ± 7.6 g kg−1 in 2013. Culm sap sucrose varied from approximately 1.6 to 2.1 times that of leaf sap depending upon the harvest year. The percentage seed set varied between years ranging from 37.2 ± 12.4% to 56.6 ± 9.8%, and the mean number of caryopses per panicle varied from 4,770 ± 2,000 to 11,470 ± 3,075. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forage and Bioenergy Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Developmental Morphology and Biomass Yield of Upland and Lowland Switchgrass Ecotypes Grown in Iowa
Agronomy 2018, 8(5), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8050061 - 28 Apr 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Sustainable development of the bioenergy industry will depend upon the amount and quality of bioenergy feedstock produced. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a model lignocellulosic bioenergy crop but critical information is lacking for improved management, growth, and development simulation model calibration. A [...] Read more.
Sustainable development of the bioenergy industry will depend upon the amount and quality of bioenergy feedstock produced. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a model lignocellulosic bioenergy crop but critical information is lacking for improved management, growth, and development simulation model calibration. A field study was conducted near Ames, IA during 2012–2013 with the objective to evaluate upland (“Cave-in-Rock”, ‘Trailblazer’ and ‘Blackwell’) and lowland (“Kanlow” and “Alamo”) switchgrass ecotypes for harvest timing on morphology (i.e., phenology, leaf area index (LAI), and biomass yield). The experiment used a randomized complete block design, with three upland and two lowland varieties harvested at six dates annually. In both years, delaying harvest to later maturity increased biomass yield; lowland cultivars produced greater biomass yield (6.15 tons ha−1) than upland ecotypes (5.10 tons ha−1). Lowland ecotypes had delayed reproductive development compared with upland ecotypes. At the end of both growing seasons, upland ecotypes had greater mean stage count (MSC) than lowland ecotypes. “Cave-in-Rock” had greatest MSC and LAI, but did not produce the greatest biomass. Relationships were nonlinear between MSC and biomass yield, with significant cultivar–year interaction. The relationship between biomass yield and MSC will be useful for improving switchgrass, including cultivar selection, fertilizer application, and optimum harvest time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forage and Bioenergy Crops)
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