Assessing nutrient responses and biomass quality for selection of appropriate paludiculture crops.

Affiliation

Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Ole Worms Alle 1, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

Tall wetland graminoids with rapid growth, high productivity and wide tolerance of biotic and abiotic stresses are potentially valuable bioenergy crops, especially when grown in rewetted peat soils for biomass (paludiculture). Using wetland plants as renewable bioenergy crops instead of fossil fuels has the ecological benefits of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improving water quality and conserving peat soils. As these potential crops will grow in peat that differs in nutrient availability, not only will their biomass productivity be affected, but also the biomass quality for bioenergy may be altered. We set up five different nutrient availability treatments in waterlogged peat soil to simulate different nutrient environments for wetland plant cultivation. Seven wetland plants suitable for paludiculture (Typha latifolia, Arundo plinii, Arundo donax and four distinct genotypes of Phragmites australis from Denmark, The Netherlands, Romania and Italy) were selected to test responses of biomass production and tissue quality to different nutrient availability. Due to their high biomass productivity, T. latifolia, A. donax, Dutch (NL) and Romanian (RO) P. australis had the greatest potential to produce bioenergy feedstock. All taxa survived when cultivated with very low nutrient availability, especially NL and RO P. australis and T. latifolia. Moreover, biomass quality was both species-specific and element-specific, affected by increasing nutrient availability. Overall, T. latifolia had the lowest tissue concentrations of S and Si as well as high concentrations of Ca, and therefore the best tissue quality for combustion both at low and high nutrient availability. These results will provide crucial information for choosing appropriate crops and managements and promote the success of culturing wetland plants as bioenergy feedstock.

Keywords

Arundo,Nutrients,Phragmites australis,Productivity,Tissue element concentrations,Typha,

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