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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Sunflower and Plant Biology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #334985

Research Project: Novel Weed Management Solutions: Understanding Weed-Crop Interactions in Northern Climates

Location: Sunflower and Plant Biology Research

Title: Coal-bed methane water: effects on soil properties and camelina productivity

item SINTIM, HENRY - University Of Wyoming
item ZHELJAZKOV, VALTCHO - University Of Wyoming
item Foley, Michael
item Evangelista, Roque

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Quality
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2017
Publication Date: 5/18/2017
Citation: Sintim, H.Y., Zheljazkov, V.D., Foley, M.E., Evangelista, R.L. 2017. Coal-bed methane water: effects on soil properties and camelina productivity. Journal of Environmental Quality. 46(3):641-648.

Interpretive Summary: Camelina is an oilseed crop, with some tolerance for growth on degraded lands, which is being developed for biofuel production. A byproduct of natural gas extraction is coal-bed methane water. A greenhouse study was done comparing the effects of tap water and coal-bed methane water on camelina production and soil properties. Irrigation with the coal-bed methane water reduced seed yield and resulted in surface crusting. In the short-term, a mixture of good quality water and coal-bed methane water might be used for irrigation of camelina, but long-term use could lead to saline soils.

Technical Abstract: Every year the production of coal-bed natural gas in the Powder River Basin results in the discharge of large amounts of coal-bed methane water (CBMW) in Wyoming; however, no sustainable disposal methods for CBMW are currently available. A greenhouse study was conducted to evaluate the potential to utilize CBMW as source of irrigation water for camelina (Camelina sativa L. Crantz). We assessed the effects of three CBMW concentrations (0%-1:0; 50%-1:1; and 100%-0:1 tap water to CBMW) on selected soil properties, camelina growth, oil and fatty acid composition of three camelina cultivars; Blaine Creek, Ligena, and Pronghorn. The 100% CBMW reduced seed and estimated biofuel yields by 24% and 23%, respectively, but increased the oil content by 3%, relative to the 0% CBMW. Also, the 100% CBMW visibly impacted soil through formation of surface crust due to elevated levels of sodium (Na). The 50% CBMW had no significant effects on the seed yield, estimated biofuel yield, and oil content, but the soil Na levels were still very high, which could pose long term impact on soil structure. The CBMW tended to reduce the total saturated fatty acid (SFA), but it had no significant effects on the total monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) of camelina seeds. Overall, in the short-term, CBMW may be used to irrigate camelina; however, it needs to be diluted with an equal amount of good quality water. Further studies are needed to determine the optimal ratio of tap water to CBMW, and the long-term impacts on soil under field conditions.