The effects of a permanently elevated water table in an acid sulphate soil on reed canary grass for combustion← Takaisin
|Epie, Kenedy ; Virtanen, Seija ; Santanen, Arja; Stoddard, Frederick
|Plant and Soil
|Acid sulphate soil, Ash content, Biomass, Element composition, Phalaris, Water table
|Academy of Finland, Graduate School for Agricultural Production Sciences of the University of Helsinki
|University of Helsinki
|The effects of a permanently elevated water table in an acid sulphate soil on reed canary grass for combustion
Aims and background Acid sulphate (AS) soils require careful management to prevent the environmental hazards that result from the oxidation of sulphide-bearing deep soil layers and the consequent acidification of soil and waters. Management with a high water table precludes many food crops, so their suitability for perennial energy cropping was investigated in a 3-year study using reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea L., RCG).
Methods Monolithic lysimeters made of undisturbed AS soil and equipped with ground-water level control and measurement instruments were planted with 1-year-old RCG turfs taken from a non-AS field. Twowater tables were imposed, high (HWT, 20 cm below soil surface) and low (LWT, 70 cm below soil surface, considered normal for agriculturally managed AS soils) for a 3 year period. Growth and physiological characters of RCG were determined and its ash content and the elemental composition of its dry biomass (Ca, Cl, K, Mg, and S) were analysed.
Results The level of the water table had significant effects on crop growth and quality. Shoots were 25 to 29 % taller, consequently yielding more dry matter in HWT than in LWT lysimeters. Concentrations of K, Mg and S that can affect the combustion process were higher in biomass harvested from LWT lysimeters than from the HWT plants. At the end of the experiment, the
spatial distribution of roots within the soil profile differed between treatments. Roots penetrated to the bottom of LWT lysimeters with total root dry mass nearly twice that in HWT.
Conclusions RCG intended for burning grows and performs well in acid sulphate soils managed with a raised water table. This management option minimizes the risk of acid flows from oxidized soils, and allows farmers to harvest a non-food crop from soils that would have to be drained to provide a food or feed crop.