Responses of reed canary grass to high and low water content in acid sulphate soils

Kenedy Etone Epie, Seija Virtanen, Asko Simojoki, Fred Stoddard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionProfessional


To examine the suitability of acid sulphate soils for perennial energy cropping and specifically to provide information on the responses of reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea L.) to raised water levels, a management option for these problematic soils, large core lysimeters of undisturbed field acid sulphate soil were taken into PVC tubes equipped with ground water level control and measurement instruments, planted with reed canary grass, and studied during the period 2008 - 2010. Two treatments; high water content (HWC) (20 cm below soil surface) and low water content (LWC; 70 cm below soil surface, considered normal for acid sulphate soils) were considered and there were 4 replicates. Tiller height, net photosynthesis, and dry weight at harvest were measured and elements were analysed after nitric acid digestion by an ICP-OES instrument. Tillers in HWC lysimeters were 30 and 22.5% taller than those in LWC lysimeters (P=0.001, P=0.003) in September 2009 and 2010 respectively. On the other hand, net photosynthesis was higher in LWC grasses (P=0.019, P=0.001). Spring 2009 dry matter yields were almost the same in both treatments, but in 2010, HWC grasses yielded 43% higher than LWC (P=0.002). The 2009 spring harvest analyzed so far for element composition revealed a higher proportion of Al, Fe and K in leaves and panicles than in stems, and differences between the treatments were not significant.
We concluded that reed canary grass, an established bioenergy crop, grows well in acid sulphate soils and can perform better when the water table is raised to reduce acidity and prevent environmental hazards. Furthermore, in order to obtain good quality biomass, harvesting should be done in spring after some of the deleterious elements affecting the processing stage such as K have been reduced by leaf drop and leaching.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication24th NJF Congress on Food, Feed, Fuel and Fun
Publication date2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011
MoE publication typeD3 Professional conference proceedings
EventNordic Association of Agricultural Scientist (NJF) Congress - Uppsala, Sweden
Duration: 14 Jun 201116 Jun 2011
Conference number: 24th

Fields of Science

  • 4111 Agronomy
  • 416 Food Science

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