K-State researchers study using CRP land for biofuels
The stand was cut to a height of 6 inches, leaving a 6-inch stubble to maintain soil and water erosion.
The research so far shows that while fertilizing with 50 or 100 pounds of nitrogen per acre statistically increased yield over the non-fertilized treatment, the overall increase was not as efficient as expected, Harmoney said.
“Nitrogen fertilization has increased productivity,” he said. “We’ve been able to increase production by about 600 pounds per acre from having 50 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer, and just a little over 1,000 pounds an acre from utilizing 100 pounds of nitrogen per acre,” but noted that with current rates of production and returns, harvesting biomass from CRP land without adding N fertilizer is more profitable.
As part of the study, the researchers are tracking plant populations and plant composition to see how they’ve changed over time due to harvest management and nitrogen treatments.
“We’ve also collected soil samples so we’ll be able to track how soil nutrient status has changed over time, as well as some of the other soil properties,” Harmoney said.
After the-10 year contract expires on CRP program acres, producers have often had the option to re-enroll in CRP or to plant back to row crops, he said. Since the study began, thousands of Kansas CRP acres have been planted back to grain crops, but thousands of CRP acres have also been re- enrolled with new contracts.
“This project is important because Kansas currently has about 2.5 million acres of CRP lands, much of which will soon be coming out of the program, so any research that involves CRP has the potential to have a big impact and affect a large acreage of Kansas lands,” the researcher said.
A video about the research is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpIzXsmXv4c. More information about the research is available on the K-State Agricultural Research Center website: http://www.wkarc.org/p.aspx?tabid=35.