Arable News

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New Descriptive List identifies best maize varieties to grow for anaerobic digesters

A new Descriptive Listfor maize was recently launched by the BSPB/NIAB to provide AD (anaerobicdigestion) plant operators and growers with independent data to use whenselecting varieties to maximise biogas (methane) production. Where growingconditions are Less Favourable, it ranks varieties on earliness (DM%) and atFavourable sites, by Metabolisable Energy (ME) yield.  LG variety Atriumtops the Favourable List with the highest ME content of 11.75MJ/kg DM andhighest ME yield of 215,000MJ/ha. For growers wanting an earlier maturingvariety, another LG variety, Fieldstar, has an ME content of 11.48MJ/kg DM andME yield of 207,000MJ/ha.

 

Limagrains TimRichmond explains: Farm-based anaerobic digestion is a relatively new, butexpanding industry with maize frequently being used as the main feedstock forthe digestion process, especially in areas which are favourable for thecrop.  Growers of maize for AD need an independent source of informationto compare variety performance in order to select the right one. Hence thelaunch of this new Maize for Anaerobic Digestion List which has been compiledfrom over 3 years of BSPB/NIAB trial data.

 

The new List recognisesthat the selection criteria for anaerobic digesters are different from thosefor livestock feeding. To maximise biogas production, it is the total energy(ME) production per hectare that best indicates the potential methane yield ofa variety. So this new AD List provides growers with data on energy yield, drymatter content at harvest (earliness), DM yield, plus the important agronomictraits of early vigour, and standing power.

 

 Dry matter yield is one of the most importantattributes when selecting which maize variety to grow as an AD feedstock. Latermaturing varieties can generally produce higher yields, and since maize for ADplants can be harvested at a lower DM content (28-32% DM) than for forage use,this makes the later maturing variety Atrium an ideal choice. It combines outstanding energy content together with a very high DM andenergy yield, he explains.

 

 As large areas of maize are needed for an ADplant, it is advisable to spread the harvest operation and enable any follow-oncereal crops to be planted in good weather conditions. Growing both Atrium andthe early maturing variety Fieldstar, which has an ME yield of 207,000 MJ/ha,enables growers to start harvesting some maize earlier and plant the followingcrop sooner, he adds.

 

Over the next fewyears we expect to see more high-yielding specialist varieties appearing on theMaize for AD List. It will become a crucial decision-making tool for growersand AD plant operators seeking to maximise the performance of maize as afeedstock.

 


  • Written by: Farmers Guide
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