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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbia, Missouri » Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #310614

Title: Nitrogen uptake by corn and switchgrass plants in soils of varying depths in Central Missouri

item BARDHAN, S - University Of Missouri
item JOSE, J - University Of Missouri
item Kitchen, Newell
item THOMPSON, A - University Of Missouri

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/31/2014
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Sustainable biomass feedstock production systems involve biomass generation from non-agricultural or marginal lands with minimal external inputs. Switchgrass based alley cropping systems have been proposed as biomass feedstock crop systems in marginal lands. In many areas in the Midwest United States, shallow soils above the argillic horizon (claypan soil or often called depth to claypan(DTC)) are susceptible to flooding and drought and thus hinder high economic returns from conventional agricultural production. The main purpose of this research was to assess differences between corn and switchgrass photosynthetic potential as influenced by the DTC. Research was initiated in 2009 in Columbia, MO on 160 plots with corn, soybean, and switchgrass grown on a range of DTC (0 to 80 cm). Biomass data from 2009 to present have revealed that corn yield was sensitive to DTC with greater yield as DTC increased (p=less than 0.06) while switchgrass yield proved to be insensitive to DTC for all years except in 2012. To understand, the fundamental mechanism driving this trend, we used a portable photosynthesis measurement unit (LiCor 6400) to measure the light response curves for corn and switchgrass at three different soil depths – shallow (2 cm), medium (22 cm), and deep (42 cm). Results suggest that soil depth was more important for corn to maintain a high rate of photosynthesis while switchgrass was able to maintain photosynthesis in a more uniform rate irrespective of soil depth. The significance of this research is that it establishes that switchgrass can be used as an alternative bioenergy crop in marginal lands degraded due to erosion such as commonly found in side-slope landscape positions of claypan soils.