Biomass and Biogas Yield of Maize (Zea mays L.) Grown under Artificial Shading
Agroforestry, as an improved cropping system, offers some advantages in terms of yield, biodiversity, erosion protection or habitats for beneficial insects. It can fulfill the actual sustainability requirements for bioenergy production like food supply, nature conservation, stop of deforestation. However, competition between intercropped species for water, nutrients and light availability has to be carefully considered. A field trial with shading nets was conducted in Southwest Germany to evaluate the influence of different shading levels (−12, −26, and −50% of full sunlight) on biomass growth, dry matter yield and biogas quality parameters of maize (Zea mays L., cv. ‘Corioli CS’). Shading the plants causes a delayed development, a reduction in height and leaf area index and a slower senescence. Dry matter yields were reduced about 18%, 19%, and 44% compared to 21.05 Mg ha−1 year−1 at full sunlight. Biogas and methane yields were also significantly reduced, the 50% shading treatment showed a reduction of 45% for both parameters. Further, shading led to higher crude protein and crude ash contents. If silage maize is grown under shade, the yields of dry matter, biogas, and methane are nearly halved under 50% shade. Cultivation up to 26% shading could be possible.