Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Nitrate Leaching, and Biomass Yields from Production of Miscanthus × giganteus in Illinois, USA

Gevan D. Behnke, Mark B. David, Thomas B. Voigt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the effects of nitrogen (N) fertilization on Miscanthus × giganteus greenhouse gas emissions, nitrate leaching, and biomass production is an important consideration when using this grass as a biomass feedstock. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of three N fertilization rates (0, 60, and 120 kg N ha -1 using urea as the N source) on nitrous oxide (N 2O) and carbon dioxide (CO 2) emissions, nitrogen leaching, and the biomass yields and N content of M. × giganteus planted in July 2008, and evaluated from 2009 through early 2011 in Urbana, Illinois, USA. While there was no biomass yield response to N fertilization rates in 2009 and 2010, the amount of N in the harvested biomass in 2010 was significantly greater at the 60 and 120 kg N ha -1 N rates. There was no significant CO 2 emission response to N rates in 2009 or 2010. Similarly, N fertilization did not increase cumulative N 2O emissions in 2009, but cumulative N 2O emissions did increase in 2010 with N fertilization. During 2009, nitrate (NO 3 -) leaching at the 50-cm soil depth was not related to fertilization rate, but there was a significant increase in NO 3 - leaching between the 0 and 120 kg N ha -1 treatments in 2010 (8. 9 and 28. 9 kg NO 3-N ha -1 year -1, respectively). Overall, N fertilization of M. × giganteus led to N 2O releases, increased fluxes of inorganic N (primarily NO 3 -) through the soil profile; and increased harvested N without a significant increase in biomass production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)801-813
Number of pages13
JournalBioenergy Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Carbon dioxide
  • Miscanthus
  • Nitrate
  • Nitrogen fertilizer
  • Nitrous oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Energy (miscellaneous)


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