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[en] A field experiment was conducted to study the effect of crop residues and tillage practices on BNF, WUE and yield of mungbean (Vigna radiata (L.) Wilczek) under semi arid rainfed conditions at the Livestock Research Station, Surezai, Peshawar in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan. The experiment comprised of two tillage i) conventional tillage (T1) and ii) no-tillage (T0) and two residues i) wheat crop residues retained (+) and ii) wheat crop residues removed (-) treatments. Basal doses of N at the rate of 20: P at the rate of 60 kg ha-1 were applied to mungbean at sowing time in the form of urea and single super phosphate respectively. Labelled urea having 5% 15N atom excess was applied at the rate of 20 kg N ha-1 as aqueous solution in micro plots (1m2) in each treatment plot to assess BNF by mungbean. Similarly, maize and sorghum were grown as reference crops and were fertilized with 15N labelled urea as aqueous solution having 1% 15N atom excess at the rate of 90 kg N ha/sup -1/. The results obtained showed that mungbean yield (grain/straw) and WUE were improved in notillage treatment as compared to tillage treatment. Maximum mungbean grain yield (1224 kg ha/sup -1/) and WUE (6.61kg ha/sup -1 mm/sup -1/) were obtained in no-tillage (+ residues) treatment. The N concentration in mungbean straw and grain was not significantly influenced by tillage or crop residue treatments. The amount of fertilizer-N taken up by straw and grain of mungbean was higher under no-tillage with residues-retained treatment but the differences were not significant. The major proportion of N (60.03 to 76.51%) was derived by mungbean crop from atmospheric N2 fixation, the remaining (19.6 to 35.91%) was taken up from the soil and a small proportion (3.89 to 5.89%) was derived from the applied fertilizer in different treatments. The maximum amount of N fixed by mungbean (82.59 kg ha/sup -1/) was derived in no-tillage with wheat residue-retained treatment. By using sorghum as reference crop, the biological nitrogen fixed by mungbean ranged from 37.00 to 82.59 kg ha/sup -1/ whereas with maize as a reference crop, it ranged from 34.74 to 70.78 kg ha/sup -1/ under different treatments. In comparison, non-fixing (reference) crops of sorghum and maize derived up to 16.6 and 15.5% of their nitrogen from the labelled fertilizer, respectively. These results suggested that crop productivity, BNF and WUE in the rainfed environment can be improved with minimum tillage and crop residues retention. (author)
[en] For several years the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has been developing a Decision Support System for Agriculture (DSS4Ag) which determines the economically optimum recipe of various fertilizers to apply at each site in a field to produce a crop, based on the existing soil fertility at each site, as well as historic production information and current prices of fertilizers and the forecast market price of the crop at harvest. In support of the growing interest in agricultural crop residues as a bioenergy feedstock, we have extended the capability of the DSS4Ag to develop a variable-rate fertilizer recipe for the simultaneous economically optimum production of both grain and straw. In this paper we report the results of 2 yr of field research testing and enhancing the DSS4Ag's ability to economically optimize the fertilization for the simultaneous production of both grain and its straw, where the straw is an agricultural crop residue that can be used as a biofeedstock. For both years, the DSS4Ag reduced the cost and amount of fertilizers used and increased grower profit, while reducing the biomass produced. The DSS4Ag results show that when a biorefinery infrastructure is in place and growers have a strong market for their straw it is not economically advantageous to increase fertilization in order to try to produce more straw. This suggests that other solutions, such as single-pass selective harvest, must be implemented to meet national goals for the amount of biomass that will be available for collection and use for bioenergy. (author)
[en] Full text: Rice straw is the dry stalks of rice plants, after the grain and chaff have been removed. More than 1 million tonnes of rice straw are produced in MADA in the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia annually. Burning in the open air is the common technique of disposal that contribute to air pollution. In this paper, a technique to convert these residues into solid fuel through pelletizing is presented. The pellets are manufactured from rice straw and sawdust in a disc pelletizer. The pellet properties are quite good with good resistance to mechanical disintegration. The pellets have densities between 1000 and 1200 kg/ m3. Overall, converting rice straw into pellets has increased its energy and reduced moisture content to a minimum of 8 % and 30 % respectively. The gross calorific value is about 15.6 MJ/ kg which is lower to sawdust pellet. The garnering of knowledge in the pelletization process provides a path to increase the use of this resource. Rice straw pellets can become an important renewable energy source in the future. (author)
[en] In Asia, as elsewhere in the world, countries rushed to promote biofuels during the dramatic oil price increases of 2007-2008 as way to enhance energy security, without waiting for the settlement of controversial debates about the environmental effects of biofuels, especially their effects on greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, biodiversity, and whether biofuels cause a conflict between food and fuel. This paper does not settle this debate, but instead argues that there are straightforward, practical and feasible measures that can be implemented immediately in order to reduce the pressure of biofuels on the environment and food supply, and more generally increase food production. The key is to focus on increasing resource use efficiency in agriculture, especially different forms of energy use. Resource use efficiency in agriculture is low in many parts of Asia. Concrete measures that could be taken include reductions in market-distorting input subsidies and the introduction of resource-conserving technologies. These could be supplemented with greater use of non-fossil fuels in agricultural production, use of agricultural wastes in energy production, inclusion of input use levels in biofuel certification systems, and greater investment in agricultural research, extension systems, and infrastructure development. Biofuel fever has waned since the onset of the global financial crisis in late 2008, but it is likely to return when economic conditions eventually improve, and possible moves to strengthen the European Union biofuel blending requirements could further accelerate it. Much of the debate on biofuel-related impacts in the region has focused on deforestation, with little attention on agricultural input use, which could also have serious consequences for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In sum, this paper argues that governments can still improve the environmental performance of biofuels while reducing potential conflicts with food security by implementing the straightforward measures suggested here. Though these may appear to be basic textbook suggestions, many governments are still not following them even though the spread of biofuels increases their importance and urgency. The message is that the governments in the region should get back to the basics.