Fertilizer and intercropped legumes as nitrogen source for Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L.) tops for bioenergy
Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L.) produces substantial shoots not used as food. To test its potential as a sustainable bioenergy crop, we studied the effects of synthetic fertilizer and intercropped legumes as nitrogen (N) sources on the growth, aboveground biomass dry matter yield and energy qualities of this crop. Plant height, leaf area index (LAI), SPAD-value, biomass yield, ash content and mineral element composition were determined. Mean aboveground biomass yields were not significantly affected by N source (legume intercrops and synthetic fertilizer) and ranged from 13 to 17 t ha-1. Remarkably, plants given no fertilizer yielded equally to plants given 90 N kg ha-1. These results confirm that Jerusalem artichoke, compared to other energy crops, have less need for N and can potentially be sustained by N fixing legumes in an intercropped system. This could reduce or eliminate production and environmental cost in cultivation of biomass feedstock for energy use.