Agroecological assessment of the cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum L.) as a biomass crop of the future
The cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum L.) is a permanent energy crop which could complement maize as a feedstock for biogas. We investigate the importance of Silphium for biodiversity within the agroecosystem.
To counteract short maize crop rotations and monotonous agricultural landscapes the cup plant Silphium perfoliatum with its high yielding ability is a promising candidate for biomass production. Its perennial lifecycle, long-lasting flowering period and low tillage imply positive effects on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Experience from agricultural practice also indicates a comparatively high drought tolerance of S. perfoliatum.
The project aims at quantifying the impact of Silphium on biodiversity and ecosystem services in agroecosystems. A further focus of the project is on the water balance of Silphium under different environmental conditions. The results of the project will help optimizing the cropping system of S. perfoliatum and understanding its interactions with other crops. Based on our results we will be able to ponder arguments for the commercial development of this novel energy crop from an agroecological perspective.
Workpackage 1 on aboveground biodiversity has a focus on quantifying the food resources (nectar and pollen) provided by Silphium and identifying the community of flower visitors within the crop. A further focus is on interactions between Silphium and other crops in the landscapes and surrounding the fields. We conduct our research on 17 farms in Lower Saxony and on experimental plots in Thuringia.
2.2012 - 7.2015