Journal article Open Access

The Impact of Soil Water Content on Yield, Composition, Energy, and Water Indicators of the Bioenergy Grass Saccharum spontaneum ssp. aegyptiacum under Three-Growing Seasons

Scordia, D.; Calcagno, S.; Piccitto, A.; Cristina Patanè


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    <subfield code="a">The Impact of Soil Water Content on Yield, Composition, Energy, and Water Indicators of the Bioenergy Grass Saccharum spontaneum ssp. aegyptiacum under Three-Growing Seasons</subfield>
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    <subfield code="a">&lt;p&gt;Raising water and energy productivity in agriculture can contribute to reducing the pressure&amp;nbsp;on the limited freshwater availability and non-renewable energy sources. Bioenergy perennial grasses&amp;nbsp;are ecient from a water perspective and can a ord a low-energy cultivation system; however, crop&amp;nbsp;selection and cultivation practices for minimizing land use change and maximizing resource use&lt;br&gt;
eciencies remain a challenging task in view of sustainable bioeconomy development. The present&amp;nbsp;work investigated the soil water e ect on a long-term plantation of Saccharum (Saccharum spontaneum&amp;nbsp;ssp. aegyptiacum), a bioenergy perennial grass holding great promise for semiarid Mediterranean&amp;nbsp;areas. The plantation was in its 13th year following establishment and was subjected to three levels of&amp;nbsp;irrigation for three successive growing seasons. Regression models between crop water use (CWU)&amp;nbsp;and productivity, biomass composition, energy, and water indicators showed di erent prediction&amp;nbsp;curves. Raising CWU (from 230 to 920 mm) enhanced the dry biomass yield (from 14.8 to 30.1 Mg&amp;nbsp;ha&lt;sup&gt;-1&lt;/sup&gt;) and the net energy value (from 257.6 to 511 GJ ha&lt;sup&gt;-1&lt;/sup&gt;). On the same CWU range, unirrigated&amp;nbsp;crops improved the energy eciency (from 99.8 to 58.5 GJ ha􀀀1), the energy productivity (from 5.6&amp;nbsp;to 3.4 Mg GJ&lt;sup&gt;-1&lt;/sup&gt;) and the water productivity (from 114.5 to 56.1 MJ m􀀀3) by reducing the water&amp;nbsp;footprint (from 8.7 to 17.8 m3 GJ&lt;sup&gt;-1&lt;/sup&gt;). Biomass composition was also superior in unirrigated crops,&amp;nbsp;as the lower heating value, structural polysaccharides, and the acid detergent lignin were higher,&lt;br&gt;
while ash and soluble compounds were lower. Present findings demonstrated the good yield levels&amp;nbsp;and persistence of Saccharum, improving our knowledge of plant responses to changing soil water&amp;nbsp;availability to maximize energy and conserve natural resources, paving the way for sustainable&amp;nbsp;bioeconomy development in the Mediterranean area.&lt;/p&gt;</subfield>
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