Nitrogen and Carbon Cycling of Sustainable Agricultural Methods in Second Generation Biofuel Grasses
Crop treatment practices have a possible effect on nitrogen and carbon cycling as nitrogen and carbon are used as plant nutrients. As part of the denitrification process in the soil, nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas, is released into the atmosphere. By evaluating the amount of greenhouse gases released by specific crop management practices, a reduction in the amount of greenhouse gases released can be developed in future agricultural systems. Crop treatment of miscanthus, switchgrass, maize, prairie, and sorghum were varied to determine the effects of differing levels of nitrogen fertilizer treatment. The effects on nitrogen and carbon cycling of the different crop management practices were measured by determining the total organic carbon in a sample, the level of greenhouse gas emission, and the amount of ammonium and nitrate in the soil sample. This project’s outcomes may increase understanding of soil carbon and nitrogen cycling and greenhouse gas emission from the soil. The type of crop and type of fertilizer have strong impacts on the pathways for nitrogen loss and carbon availability.