Establishment, growth and yield potential of the perennial grass Miscanthus x giganteus on degraded coal mine soils

Stanislaw Jeżowski, Michal Mos, Andrzej Mocek, Wojciech Owczarzak, Sam Buckby, Joanna Cerazy-Waliszewska, Zygmunt Kaczmarek, Jon McCalmont

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Abstract

Miscanthus x giganteus is a giant C4 grass native to Asia. Unlike most C4 species, it is relatively cold tolerant due to adaptations across a wide range of altitudes. These grasses are characterized by high productivity and low input requirements, making them excellent candidates for bioenergy feedstock production. The aim of this study was to investigate the potential for growing Miscanthus on extremely marginal soils, degraded by open lignite (brown coal) mining. Field experiments were established within three blocks situated on waste heaps originating from the lignite mine. Analyses were conducted over the first 3 years following Miscanthus cultivation, focusing on the effect of organic and mineral fertilization on crop growth, development and yield in this extreme environment. The following levels of fertilization were implemented between the blocks: the control plot with no fertilization (D0), a plot with sewage sludge (D1), a plot with an identical amount of sewage sludge plus one dose of mineral fertilizer (D2) and a plot with an identical amount of sewage sludge plus a double dose of mineral fertilizer (D3). Crop development and characteristics (plant height, tillering, and biomass yield [dry matter]) were measured throughout the study period and analyzed using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). Significant differences were apparent between plant development and 3rd year biomass production over the course of the study (0.964 kg plant-1 for DO compared to 1.503 kg plant-1 for D1). Soil analyses conducted over the course of the experiment showed that organic carbon levels within the soil increased significantly following the cultivation of Miscanthus, and overall, pH decreased. With the exception of iron, macronutrient concentrations remained stable throughout. The promising yields and positive effects of Miscanthus on the degraded soil suggests that long term plantations on land otherwise unsuitable for agriculture may prove to be of great environmental and economic significance
Original languageEnglish
Article number726
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2017

Keywords

  • Miscanthus x giganteus
  • biomass
  • photo-remediation
  • soil restoration
  • Brown fields

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