Energy potential of residual maize biomass at different spacings and nitrogen doses

ABSTRACT Agricultural residual biomass is an important source of energy, and its production and quality vary according to the crop management. This study aimed to assess the effects of plant distribution and nitrogen fertilization on the energy production potential of the biomass of maize cultivated under no tillage. The field experiment was installed in southeast Brazil using five nitrogen rates (0, 60, 120, 180, and 240 kg ha-1) and two inter-row spacings (0.4 and 0.8 m). Grain yield, residual biomass productivity, and bioenergy potential in different parts of the plant (grain, stalk+leaf, husk, and cob) were assessed. No change in grain yield was observed using narrow row spacing. Stalk+leaf and husk productivity was higher using 0.8 m than using 0.4 m of inter-row spacing. Nitrogen application resulted in increased grain yield and biomass productivity. Nitrogen influences the bioenergy potential by increasing the biomass and calorific value. Application of the maximum nitrogen fertilization rate is recommended for grain yield considering the use of only the husk and cob can generate 2712 kWh ha-1 of bioenergy.