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Title: Double- and relay-cropping oilseed and biomass crops for sustainable energy production

item Gesch, Russell - Russ
item BERTI, MARISOL - North Dakota State University
item JOHNSON, BURTON - North Dakota State University
item APONTE, ALFREDO - North Dakota State University
item JI, YUN - University Of North Dakota
item SEAMES, WAYNE - University Of North Dakota
item Archer, David

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/7/2013
Publication Date: 6/7/2013
Citation: Gesch, R.W., Berti, M., Johnson, B., Aponte, A., Ji, Y., Seames, W., Archer, D.W. 2013. Double- and relay-cropping oilseed and biomass crops for sustainable energy production [abstract]. 21st European Biomass Conference and Exhibition, June 3-7, 2013, Copenhagen, Denmark. p. 372.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Economically and environmentally sustainable bioenergy production requires strategic integration of biofuel crops into modern cropping systems. Double- and relay-cropping can offer a means of increasing production efficiency to boost profits and provide environmental benefits through crop diversification without sacrificing food security. Recently, our research group has shown good potential for growing winter camelina (Camelina sativa L.) as a dedicated oilseed biofuel feedstock directly followed in the summer by forage sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L.) or soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] (double-cropped) or inter-seeded with these crops (relay-cropped) to additionally produce biomass and/or food. As a winter "cover crop," camelina can provide additional benefits such as preventing soil erosion, taking up excess N, providing photosynthetic cover during the off-season, and providing habitat for beneficial insects. Long-term replicated experiments are being conducted at three field sites across Minnesota (MN) and North Dakota (ND) in the northern Corn Belt region of the U.S. to evaluate the agronomic potential of winter camelina double- and relay-cropped with forage sorghum and soybean. Results show that camelina has excellent winter survivability, but seed yields can vary depending on established plant densities, which are affected greatly by soil moisture particularly at planting. Regardless of cropping sequence, with good established stands, winter camelina consistently yields around 1100 to 1300 kg ha-1 of seed in MN and as high as about 1700 kg ha-1 in ND. Relayed soybean inter-seeded between camelina rows prior to bolting has generally outperformed sequential double-crop treatments with seed yields as high as 2764 kg ha-1. Combined seed oil yields of double- and relay-cropped camelina and soybean tend to be much greater than either species grown as a mono-crop and were as high as 1233 L ha-1 for the relay system. Forage sorghum also performs well in a double-crop system with winter camelina. Like soybean, relay-cropped sorghum tends to perform the best, yielding as much dry biomass as 10.6 Mg ha-1 in ND and 16.2 Mg ha-1 in MN. Results indicate that double-cropping forage sorghum and soybean with winter camelina to produce oil and biomass for energy, while also producing food, is a viable system for the northern U.S. Further research is needed to improve the system to maximize winter and summer annual crop yields while minimizing inputs, and to better understand its environmental impacts.