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ARS Home » Plains Area » Brookings, South Dakota » Integrated Cropping Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #343035

Research Project: Soil and Crop Management for Enhanced Soil Health, Resilient Cropping Systems, and Sustainable Agriculture in the Northern Great Plains

Location: Integrated Cropping Systems Research

Title: Soil nitrogen dynamics in switchgrass seeded to a marginal cropland in South Dakota

item LAI, LIMING - South Dakota State University
item HONG, CHANG OH - South Dakota State University
item KUMAR, SANDEEP - South Dakota State University
item Osborne, Shannon
item Lehman, R - Michael
item OWENS, VANCE - South Dakota State University

Submitted to: Global Change Biology Bioenergy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/2/2017
Publication Date: 7/15/2017
Citation: Lai, L., Hong, C., Kumar, S., Osborne, S.L., Lehman, R.M., Owens, V. 2017. Soil nitrogen dynamics in switchgrass seeded to a marginal cropland in South Dakota. Global Change Biology Bioenergy. 10:28-38.

Interpretive Summary: Using marginal croplands to raise switchgrass for biofuel production may result in economic and environmental benefits. To consistently produce sufficient switchgrass biomass, N fertilizer may have to be applied. The amount of applied N will be critical in determining the economic and environmental benefits from switchgrass production systems. We found that a moderate rate of N (56 kg N ha-1) application was optimum for producing switchgrass biomass without loss of N via leaching or nitrous oxide emission to the environment. Lower landscape positions (e.g., footslope) were found to increase loss of N to the environment. These findings provide guidance for efficient production of switchgrass biomass.

Technical Abstract: Soil nitrate (NO3-), nitrate leaching, and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions for 2009 through 2015 were monitored to explore N dynamics in switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) seeded to a marginally yielding cropland. Our findings indicated that N rate impacted soil NO3- (0-5 cm depth) and soil surface N2O fluxes but did not impact NO3- leaching after five years of continuous growing switchgrass. Medium N (56 kg N ha-1) was turned out to the optimal rate for increasing the biomass yield with reduced environmental problems. Landscape position impacted the N dynamics. At footslope position, there was higher soil NO3-, NO3- leaching and N2O fluxes than the other positions. Data from this study showed that growing switchgrass on marginally yielding croplands can store N nutrient, reduce N losses via leaching, and mitigate N2O emissions from soils to the atmosphere over time.