Optimizing nitrogen (N) management is an important factor for sustainable perennial biomass systems. However, N application is costly, both financially and environmentally. Our objectives were to determine: (1) N rate and plant spacing effects on yield and yield components of prairie cordgrass swards and (2) fertilizer N replacement value (FNRV) of kura clover in prairie cordgrass-kura clover binary mixtures. Plots were established in Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, USA, in 2010. Kura clover was transplanted on 30-cm centers in all treatments in which it was a component; prairie cordgrass seedlings were transplanted within the kura clover on 60- and 90-cm centers. Monoculture prairie cordgrass stands were established at the same population densities of mixed stands and fertilized with 0, 75, 150, or 225 kg N ha-1. Biomass was harvested in the autumn from 2011 to 2013. N (urea), year, plant spacing, and year × plant spacing affected prairie cordgrass production at all locations. Prairie cordgrass yield increased with N application, but the response varied by location. N application tended to increase prairie cordgrass tiller density and consistently increased tiller mass. Prairie cordgrass yield with 0 N was equal to or less than the yield of prairie cordgrass/kura clover mixtures at all locations in 2011 and 2012; however, kura clover provided a FNRV of 25–82 kg N ha-1 to prairie cordgrass in 2013. Kura clover has potential to provide N to prairie cordgrass in binary mixtures of these two species and on land that may not be easily farmed due to wetness.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by funding from the North Central Regional Sun Grant Center at South Dakota State University through a grant provided by the US Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office under award no. DE-FG36-08GO88073.
- Biomass production
- Fertilizer nitrogen replacement value
- Kura clover
- Prairie cordgrass