Genotypic factors (root morphology and architecture, genetic growth capacity e. t. c.)

According to Bayuelo-Jimenez et al. (2011) [3], under P deficiency, P-efficient accessions of maize plants (Zea mays L.) had greater root to shoot ratio, nodal rooting, nodal root laterals, nodal root hair density and length of nodal root main axis, and first-order laterals. In our experiments, we also found differential root system morphology among three Greek olive cultivars (the root systems of ‘Koroneiki’ and ‘Chondrolia Chalkidikis’ were less branched and more lateral, and with less root hair development and density, than that of ‘Kothreiki’, which was richly-branched and with much greater root hair development and density), something which was probably the main reason for the great genotypic variations in nutrient uptake and growth among the three cultivars (Chatzistathis, unpublished data). Singh et al. (2010) [37] found that great differences existed among 10 multipurpose tree species, grown in a monoculture tree cropping system on the sodic soils of Gangetic alluvium in north India, concerning plant height, diameter e. t.c.

How Soil Nutrient Availability Influences Plant Biomass and How Biomass Stimulation Alleviates Heavy Metal Toxicity in Soils

The Cases of Nutrient Use Efficient Genotypes and Phytoremediators, Respectively

Theocharis Chatzistathis and loannis Therios

Additional information is available at the end of the chapter http://dx. doi. org/10.5772/53594

1. Introduction

There are many factors influencing plant biomass, such as soil humidity, soil and air temperature, photoperiod, solar radiation, precipitations, genotype e. t.c. One of the most important factors influencing biomass is soil nutrient availability. Both nutrient deficiency and toxicity negatively affect total biomass and fruit production [1-10]. So, by controlling the optimum levels of nutrient availability in soil, the production of biomass and, of course, the economic benefit (fruit production) for the farmers can be maximized. In the cases of limited nutrient availability in soils, fertilization seems to be the most usual practice adopted by the farmers in order to ameliorate the low nutrient status. However, since: i) during the last two decades the prices of fertilizers have been dramatically increased, and ii) soil degradation and pollution, as well as underground water pollution, are serious consequences provoked by the exaggerate use of fertilizers, a global concern to reduce the use of fertilizers has been developed. So, the best (most economic and ecological) way in our days to achieve maximum yields is by selecting and growing nutrient efficient genotypes, i. e. genotypes which are able to produce high yields (biomass) in soils with limited nutrient availability. Many researchers studied the influence of genotype on biomass and plant growth (nutrient use efficient genotypes) and found impressive results. According to Chapin and Van Cleve (1991) [11], nutrient use efficiency is defined as the amount of biomass produced per unit of nutrient. So, nutrient use efficient genotypes are those having the ability to produce biomass sufficiently under limited nutrient availability. In our research with different olive cultivars, grown under hydroponics, or in soil substrate, we found significant differences concerning

macro- and micronutrient utilization efficiency among genotypes [12-13]. Possible reasons for differential nutrient utilization efficiency among genotypes may be: i) the genetic material used, i. e. cultivar (differential nutrient uptake, accumulation and distribution among tissues, mechanisms of cultivars/genotypes), ii) differential colonization of their root system mycorrhiza fungi. Chatzistathis et al. (2011) [14] refer that the statistically significant differences in Mn, Fe and Zn utilization efficiency among three Greek olive cultivars (‘Chondrolia Chalkidikis’, ‘Koroneiki’ and ‘Kothreiki’) may be probably ascribed to the differential colonization of their root system by arbuscular mycorrhiza fungus (AMF) (the percentage root colonization by AMF varied from 45% to 73%).

Heavy metal (Cu, Zn, Ni, Pb, Mn, Cr, Cd) toxicity is a very serious problem in soils suffering from: i) industrial and mine activities [15], ii) the exaggerate use of fertilizers, fungicides and insecticides, iii) acidity, iv) waterlogging, v) other urban activities, such as municipal sewage sludges, vi) the use of lead in petrols, paints and other materials [16]. Under these conditions, plant growth and biomass are negatively affected [17-20]. According to Caldelas et al. (2012) [19], not only growth inhibition happened, but also root to shoot dry matter partitioning (R/S) modified (increased 80%) at Cr toxic conditions in Iris pseudacorus L. plants. Some plant species, which may tolerate very high metal concentrations in their tissues, can be used as hyper-accumulators and are very suitable in reducing heavy metal concentrations in contaminated soils [21]. These species are able to accumulate much more metal in their shoots, than in their roots, without suffering from metal toxicity [22]. By successive harvests of the aerial parts of the hyper-accumulator species, the heavy metals concentration can be reduced [23]. Phytoremediation is an emerging technology and is considered for remediation of inorganic — and organic-contaminated sites because of its cost-effectiveness, aesthetic advantages, and long-term applicability. This technique involves the use of the ability of some plant species to absorb and accumulate high concentrations of heavy metal ions [17]. Some of these species may be a few ones from Brassicaceae family, such as raya (Brassica campestris L.)

[17] and Thlaspi caerulescens [23], or from other families, such as spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) [17], Sedum plumbizincicola [24], Amaranthus hypochondriacus [25], Eremochloa ophiuroides [26], Iris pseudacorus L. [19], Ricinus communis L., plant of Euphorbiaceae family

[18] . Finally, the tree species Genipa Americana L. may be used as one with great ability as phytostabilizer and rhizofilterer of Cr ions, according to Santana et al. (2012) [20]. Basically, there are two different strategies to phytoextract metals from soils: the first approach is the use of metal hyper-accumulator species. The second one is to use fast-growing, high biomass crops that accumulate moderate to high levels of metals in their shoots for metal phytoremediation, such as Poplar (Populus sp.) [27-28], maize (Zea mays), oat (Avena sativa), sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and rice (Oryza sativa L.) [25]. Generally, the more high biomass producing is one plant species, the more efficient is the phytoremediation effect. So, in order to enhance biomass production under metal toxicity conditions, different strategies, such as the application of chemical amendments, may be adopted [21]. Since Fe deficiency symptoms may be appeared under Cu and Zn toxicity conditions in some species of Brassicaceae family used for phytoremediation, a good practice is to utilize Fe foliar sprays in order to enhance biomass, thus the phytoremediation effect [29].

All the above mentioned topics, concerning the influence of nutrient deficiency and metal toxicity on plant biomass, as well as the importance of using nutrient use efficient genotypes

and cultivars, are within the aim of the present review. Furthermore, the characteristics that should have the plant species used for phytoremediation (fast-growing, high biomass crops) in heavy metal polluted soils are fully analyzed, and the different strategies that should be adopted in order to enhance plant growth and biomass production under so adverse soil conditions are also discussed under the light of the most important and recent research papers.

Methanogenic potential and methanotrophic activity

The rate of methane production (methanogenesis) was measured using the PMP method (Segers 1998). C-amended solutions (flushed for 5 minutes with N2) with acetate Ca(CH3COO)2 (100 mg C in the incubation flask) were used for the examination of methanogenic potential. All laboratory sediment incubations were performed in 250-mL dark glass flasks, capped with rubber stoppers, using approximately 100 g (wet mass) of sediment (grain size < 1 mm) and 180 mL of amended solution or distilled water. The headspace was maintained at 20 mL. Typically, triplicate live and dead (methanogenesis was inhibited by addition of 1.0 mM chloroform) samples from each depth were stored at 20°C in the dark and the incubation time was 72 hours; however, subsamples from the headspace atmosphere were taken every 24 hours. Gas production was calculated from the difference between final and initial headspace concentration and volume of the flask; results are expressed per volume unit of wet sediment (CH4 mL-1 WW hour-1) or per unit dry weight of sediment per one day (pg CH4 kg-1 DW day-1). Rate of potential methane oxidation (methanotrophy) was measured using modified method of methane oxidation in soil samples from Hanson (1998). Briefly, 50 mL of methane was added by syringe to the closed incubation flask with the sieved sediment and then the pressure was balanced to atmospheric pressure. All laboratory sediment incubations were performed in 250-mL dark glass flasks, capped with rubber stoppers, using approximately 100 g (wet mass) of sediment (grain size < 2 mm). Typically, triplicate live and dead (samples killed by HgCl2 to arrest all biological activity) samples from each depth were stored at 20°C in the dark, and incubation time was 72 hours; however, subsamples from the headspace atmosphere were taken every 24 hours. Potential CH4 oxidation rates at the different concentrations were obtained from the slope of the CH4 decrease with time (r2 > 0.90; methane oxidation was calculated from the difference between final and initial headspace concentration and volume of the flask; results are expressed per volume unit of wet sediment (CH4 mL-1 WW hour-1) or per unit dry weight of sediment per one day (mg CH4 kg-1 DW day-1).

Different strategies adopted in order to enhance biomass production under heavy metal toxicity conditions

Under elevated CO2 conditions the photosynthetic rate is enhanced, thus biomass production is positively influenced. According to Wang et al. (2012) [28], the increase in total Cd uptake by poplar (Populus sp.) and willow (Salix sp.) genotypes due to increased biomass production under elevated CO2 conditions suggests an alternative way of improving the efficiency of phytoremediation in heavy metal contaminated soils.

The use of fertilizers is another useful practice that should be adopted by the researchers in order to enhance biomass production under extreme heavy metal toxicity conditions. Some Brassica species, which are suitable to be used as phytoremediators, may suffer from Fe or Mn deficiency symptoms under Cu, or Zn toxicity conditions. In that case, leaf Fe and Mn fertilizations should be done in order to increase their biomass production [29], thus their ability to absorb and accumulate great amounts of heavy metals in contaminated soils, i. e. the efficiency of phytoremediation. According to Li et al. (2012) [25], in order to achieve large biomass crops, heavy fertilization has been practiced by farmers. Application of fertilizers not only provides plant nutrients, but may also change the speciation and mobility of heavy metals, thus enhances their uptake. According to Li et al. (2012) [25], NPK fertilization of Amaranthus hypochondriacus, a fast growing species grown under Cd toxicity conditions, greatly increased dry biomass by a factor of 2.7-3.8, resulting in a large increment of Cd accumulation. High biomass plants may be beneficed and overcome limitations concerning metal phytoextraction from the application of chemical amendments, including chelators, soil acidifiers, organic acids, ammonium e. t.c. [21]. Mihucz et al. (2012) [79] found that Poplar trees, grown hydroponically under Cd, Ni and Pb stress, increased their heavy metal accumulation by factor 1.6-3.3 when Fe (Ш) citrate was used.

Mycorrhizal associations may be another factor increasing resistance to heavy metal toxicity, thus reducing the depression of biomass due to toxic conditions. Castillo et al. (2011) [80] found that when Tagetes erecta L. colonized by Glomus intraradices displayed a higher resistance to Cu toxicity. According to the same authors, Glomus intraradices possibly accumulated excess Cu in its vesicles, thereby enhanced Cu tolerance of Tagetes erecta L. [80].

Finally, other factors, such as the influence of Bacillus sp. on plant growth, in contaminated heavy metal soils, indicate that biomass may be stimulated under so adverse conditions. According to Brunetti et al. (2012) [81], the effect of the amendment with compost and Bacillus licheniformis on the growth of three species of Brassicaceae family was positive, since it significantly increased their dry matter. Furthermore, the strain of Bacillus SLS18 was found to increase the biomass of the species sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L.), Phytolacca acinosa Roxb., and Solanum nigrum L. when grown under Mn and Cd toxicity conditions [82].

Fluxes of methane across the sediment-water and the air-water interfaces


Methane diffusion rate from deeper sediment layers depends on a methane concentration gradient whilst is affected by oxidation and rate of methanotrophic bacteria consumption. When diffusion fluxes are positive (positive values indicate net CH4 production), then surface water is enriched by methane which in turn may be a part of downstream transport or is further emitted to the atmosphere (Fig. 4).

On the contrary, when the fluxes of methane across the sediment-water interface are negative then all methane produced in the sediments is likely oxidized and consumed by methanotrophic bacteria here or transported via subsurface hyporheic flow.

Calculated diffusive fluxes of CH4 ranged from 0.03 to 2307.32 pg m-2 day-1 along the longitudinal profile. The lowest average values of diffusive fluxes were observed at study site II (0.11 ± 0.05 pg m-2 day-1) while the highest average values were those observed at study site IV (885.81 ± 697.54 pg m-2 day-1). Direct benthic fluxes of CH4 using the benthic chambers were measured at study site IV only and ranged from 0.19 to 82.17 mg m-2 day-1. We observed clear negative relationships between benthic methane fluxes and the flow discharge. During higher discharges when the stream water is pushed into sediments, methane diffusing from
deeper sediments upward is either transported by advection through sediments downstream or is probably almost completely oxidized by methanotrophic bacteria due to increasing oxygen supply from the surface stream. As a consequence, very low or no benthic fluxes were recorded during the time of high flow discharge. Compared to calculated diffusive fluxes it is clear that fluxes obtained by direct measurement were approximately 15* higher than the fluxes calculated with using Fick’s first law. Thus, direct benthic fluxes were used for a calculation of water column CH4 budget.

Gaseous fluxes from surface water to the atmosphere were found at all localities except locality I, where emissions were not mesured directly but were calculated lately using a known relationships between concentrations of gases in surface water and their emissions to the atmosphere found at downstream laying localities II-V. Methane showed an increase in emissions toward downstream where highest surface water concentrations have also occured (Table 4). Methane emissions measured at localities II-V ranged from 0 — 167.35 mg m-2 day-1 and no gradual increase in downstream end was found in spite of our expectation. However, sharp increase in the amount of methane emitted from the surface water was measured at lowermost localities IV and V (Tab. 4). We found positive, but weak correlation between surface water methane concentrations and measured emissions (rs = 0.45, p < 0.05)(Fig. 5).


CH4 [mg m-2day-1]

Locality I.


Locality II.

0.25 (0 — 0.6) n = 9

locality III.

1.3 (0 — 5.01) n = 10

Locality IV.

32.1 (7.3 — 87.9) n = 8

Locality V.

36.3 (2.8 — 167.4) n = 12

Table 4. Average emissions to the atmosphere and their range in parenthesis and from all localities except locality I. Emissions values for the locality I were calculated using a known relationships between concentrations of methane gas in surface water and its emissions to the atmosphere found at downstream laying localities II-V. n means sample size

Agronomic, environmental and genotypic factors influencing plant growth

Plant growth (i. e. biomass production) is influenced by many (agronomic environmental and others, such as genetic) factors. Some of the most important factors that influence biomass production are: i) soil humidity, ii) soil and air temperature, iii) air humidity, iv) photoperiod, v) light intensity, vi) soil fertility, i. e. soil nutrient availability, and vii) genotype, and are fully analyzed below.

1.1. Soil humidity

Soil humidity is a very crucial factor influencing root growth, thus nutrient uptake and total biomass. Many plant species are more sensitive in soil humidity shortage during a particular (crucial) period of their growth. In olive trees, if soil humidity shortage happens early spring, shoot elongation, as well as the formation of flowers and fruits, are negatively influenced. If the shortage happens during summer, shoot thickening, rather than shoot elongation, is influenced. Finally, soil humidity shortage reduces olive tree canopy (in order to reduce the transpiration by leaf surface) and favors root system growth (in order to have the ability to exploit greater soil volume and to search for more soil humidity), so that the ratio canopy/root is significantly reduced [30]. On the other hand, under excess soil humidity conditions (waterlogging), when soil oxygen is limited, the root system may suffer from hypoxia, thus, nutrient uptake is negatively influenced. Under extreme anaerobic soil conditions, the presence of pathogen microorganisms, such as Phytophthora sp. may lead to root necrosis. According to Therios (2009) [31], for olive trees the mechanism of tolerance to waterlogging is based on the production of adventitious roots near to the soil surface.

Fluxes of methane across the sediment-water interface

Fluxes of methane across the sediment-water interface were estimated either by direct measurement with benthic chambers or calculated by applying Fick’s first law.

Benthic fluxes

The methane fluxes across the sediment-water interface were measured using the method of benthic chambers (e. g. Sansone et al. 1998). Fluxes were measured during the summer months (VII, VIII, IX). The plexiglas chamber (2.6 dm3) covered an area 0.0154 m2. The chambers (n = 7) were installed randomly and gently anchored on the substrate without

disturbing the sediment. Samples to determine of initial concentration of CH4 were collected from each chamber before the beginning of incubation. Incubation time was 24 hours. Samples of water were stored in 40 ml glass vials closed by cap with PTFE/silicone septum until analysis.

Diffusive fluxes

Fluxes of methane between the sediment and overlying water were calculated from Fick’s first law as described by Berner (1980):

J = — DS x Ф x (AC / Ax) (1)

where J is the diffusive flux in pg m-2 s-1, Ф is the porosity of the sediment, Ds is the bulk sediment diffusion coefficient in cm-2 s-1, ACtAx is the methane concetrations gradient in pg cm-3 cm-1. Bulk sediment diffusion coefficient (Ds) is based on diffusion coefficient for methane in the water (Do) and tortuosity (0) according to the formula:

Ds = D0P-1 (2)

Tortuosity (0) is possible calculate from porosity according to equation (Boudreau 1996):

в-2 = 1 — Іп(ф2) (3)

Diffusive fluxes of CH4 were determined at all five study sites along the longitudinal profile of the Sitka stream.

Conclusion and perspectives

Biomass production is significantly influenced by many environmental, agronomic and other factors. The most important of them are air and soil temperature, soil humidity, photoperiod, light intensity, genotype, and soil nutrient availability. Soil fertility, i. e. the availability of nutrients in the optimum concentration range, greatly influences biomass production. If nutrient concentrations are out of the optimum limits, i. e. in the cases when nutrient deficiency or toxicity occurs, biomass production is depressed. Under nutrient deficient conditions, the farmers use chemical fertilizers in order to enhance yields and fruit production. However, since the prices of fertilizers have been significantly increased during the last two decades, a very good agronomic practice is the utilization of nutrient use efficient genotypes, i. e. the utilization of genotypes which are able to produce high yields under nutrient limited conditions. Although great scientific progress has been taken place during last years concerning nutrient use efficient genotypes, more research is still needed in order to clarify the physiological, genetic, and other mechanisms involved in each plant species.

On the other hand, in heavy metal contaminated soils, many plant species could be used (either as hyperaccumulators, or as fast growing-high biomass crops) in order to accumulate metals, thus to clean-up soils (phytoremediation). Particularly, the use of fast growing-high biomass species, such as Poplar, having also the ability to accumulate high amounts of heavy metals in their tissues, is highly recommended, as the efficiency of phytoremediation reaches its maximum. Particularly, since a given species typically remediates a very limited number of pollutants (i. e. in the cases when soil pollution caused by different heavy metals, or organic pollutants), it is absolutely necessary to investigate the choice of the best species for phytoremediation for each heavy metal. In addition to that, more research is needed in order to find out more strategies (apart from fertilization, the use of different Bacillus sp. strains, CO2 enrichment under controlled atmospheric conditions e. t.c.) to enhance biomass production under heavy metal toxicity conditions, thus to ameliorate the phytoremediation efficiency.

Author details

Theocharis Chatzistathis[20] and Ioannis Therios

Laboratory of Pomology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

Means followed by a different letter lower-case letter, in the rows, and capital letter, in the columns, are different [Comparisons among means were made according to Tukey-Kramer and F’ tests (p < 0.1), respectively].

[2] Cane was planted on 01 Mar 2001

[3] Treatments were: Control (no N fertilizer applied), AS15N (15N-labeled ammonium sulfate); SH + AS15N (Sunn hemp + 15N-labeled ammonium sulfate); SH15N (15N-labeled Sunn hemp).

[4] Standard error of the mean. Adapted from [12].

Table 13. Percentage (Ndff) and quantity (QNdff) of nitrogen derived from the labeled fertilizer source,

nitrogen recovery (R) in sugarcane stalks and nitrogen accumulated in samplings carried out in the first

and second harvestings1.

In the present study, about 69% of the N present in the sunn hemp residues were from BNF.

The data obtained in the present study are also in agreement with those obtained by [18] for

green manure produced in the field, in the inter-rows of the ratoon crop.

Perin [32] found substantial amounts of N derived from BNF present in the above ground

parts of sunn hemp (57.0%) grown isolated and 61.1% when intercropped with millet (Pennisetum glaucum, (L.) R. Brown) (50% seeded with each crop). The sunn hemp+millet

treatment grown before a maize crop resulted in higher grain yield than when sunn hemp alone was the preceding rotation. This effect was not observed when N-fertilizer (90 kg N

ha-1) was added; Perin [32] concluded that intercropping legume and cereals is a promising

biological strategy to increase and keep N into production system under tropical conditions.

No difference was observed in relation to the cumulative N listed in Table 10. The cumulative N results are similar to those found by [47], who obtained, during plant cane harvesting, mean values of 252.3 kg ha-1 cumulative nitrogen, with high nitrogen and plant material

[17] See http://satoyama-initiative. org/en/ for more details.

[18] Corresponding Author

[19] Corresponding Author

[20] Corresponding Author

Biomass from forests

There is an on-going debate regarding the potentials of obtaining biomass from forests on multiple scales, from stand to international levels. Biomass is often discussed in the context of a raw material for energetic utilization although it should be emphasized that total biomass figures account for the total harvestable amount of wood, regardless of its utilization or economic value. Especially in the context of energy, it is highlighted that biomass is an entirely CO2 neutral feedstock since the carbon stored in wood originates from the atmospheric CO2 pool and it was taken up during plant growth. This is, in principal, true despite biomass from forests not being free of CO2 emissions per se, since harvesting and further manipulation requires energy, which is currently provided by fossil fuels. However, it is difficult to estimate per-unit of CO2 emissions since there are many influential variables. Even a single variable could have a profound influence on the per-unit emissions as is shown for the case of chipped fuel [31]. In general, biomass requires a different treatment as compared to fossil sources of hydrocarbons. Chemical transformations over thousands of years under high pressure led to a higher density of yieldable energy per volume unit as compared to biomass, although hydrocarbons are ultimately a form of solar energy. Hence fossil infrastructure does not fit to sources of renewable energy because of intrinsic properties. Centralized structures of energy distribution might work for fossil fuels, but it is questionable if it makes sense to transport woodchips across large distances. The energy invested for (fossil based) transport eventually curbs the benefits of renewable energy resources in terms of C emissions. Biomass from forests to be used for energetic utilization in the context of conventional forestry is often seen as a by-product of silvicultural interventions and subsequent industrial processes. However, there are a number of woodland management systems focussing on woody biomass production for energetic utilization or a combination of traditional forestry and energy wood production. Table 1 compares a number of Quercus dominated woodland management systems and highlights the main differences and characteristics. These systems will be further described thereafter.

In conventional forestry (high forest), residues from thinning and subsequent product cycles; e. g. slash and sawdust; are seen as the most important feedstock for energy wood. This opens the floor for controversial discussions and assumptions, based in principal on ecological and economic concerns. While residues of thinning operations are requested by traditional industries (e. g. paper mills), the extraction of slash and other harvest residues eventually leads to nutrient depletion with ecological impacts and ultimately detriment to increments in the long-term perspective. Inherent climate and soil properties control both magnitude and duration of such developments. "Residues" from forestry were traditionally harvested in ancient times. Most of the raw materials extracted from forests served as a source for thermal energy (fuel wood and charcoal) or other feedstock for industrial processes. Moreover, forests in central Europe provided nutrients for agro systems to sustain the human population [32]. Forest pasture, litter raking and lopping (sometimes referred to as pollarding) are some examples. Extraction of nutrients is still a common practice, e. g. litter collection in the Satoyama woodlands of Japan [33]. Since all of these practices tend to extract compartments with a relatively high nutrient content in comparison to wood, soil acidification and nutrient

depletion was a common threat in Central European forest ecosystems. Forests only recovered gradually, mainly because of acidic depositions starting from the beginning of industrialization until the late 1980’s, when clear signs of forest dieback caused public awareness and subsequent installation of exhaust filters across Europe.




Today, forest biomass stocks are increasing in most European countries, due to land use change (abandoned mountain pastures), shifting tree line as a consequence of global warming and elevated CO2 concentrations as well as atmospheric N deposition. However, this should not lead to short sighted assumptions that biomass can be harvested at levels of growth increment, since a large part of it grows in areas with unsuitable conditions for access. Easily accessible forests at highly productive sites in lowlands are already typically managed at harvesting rates close to increment or even higher, e. g. in cases of natural disasters such as wind throws. In some countries, such as Austria, access to specific land ownership structures might uncover greater potentials of additional harvests.

Biomass harvesting and the field performance of harvest machine systems

1.1. Introduction to herbaceous biomass harvesting

Harvesting of cellulosic biomass, specifically herbaceous biomass, is done with a machine, or more typically a set of machines, that travel over the field and collect the biomass. These machines are designed with the traction required for off-road operation, thus they typically are not well suited for highway operation. Therefore, the transition point between "in-field hauling" and "highway hauling" is critical in the logistics system. In-field hauling is defined as the operations required to haul biomass from the point a load is created in-field to a storage location chosen to provide needed access for highway trucks. This hauling includes hauling in-field plus some limited travel over a public road to the storage location.

Harvesting systems can be categorized as coupled systems and uncoupled systems. Ideal coupled systems have a continuous flow of material from the field to the plant. An example is the wood harvest in the Southeast of the United States. Wood is harvested year-round and delivered directly to the processing plant. Uncoupled systems have various storage features in the logistics system.

Sugarcane harvesting is an example of a coupled system for herbaceous crops. The sugar cane harvester cuts the cane into billets about 38-cm long and conveys this material into a trailer traveling beside the harvester (Figure 1). The harvester has no on-board storage. Thus, a trailer has to be in place for it to continue to harvest. The trailer, when full, travels to a transfer point where it empties into a truck for highway hauling (Figure 2). Each operation is coupled to the operation upstream and downstream. It requires four tractors, trailers, and operators to keep one harvester operating. The trucks have to cycle on a tight schedule to keep the trailers moving. One breakdown delays the whole operation.

A "silage system" can be used to harvest high moisture herbaceous crops for bioenergy. With this system, a forage harvester chops the biomass into pieces about one inch (25.4 mm) in length and blows it into a wagon beside the harvester. This wagon delivers directly to a silo (storage location), if the field is close to the silo, or it dumps into a truck for a longer haul to the silo. All operations are coupled. That is, a wagon must be in place to keep the harvester moving, and a truck must be in place at the edge of the field to keep the wagons cycling back to the chopper. It is a challenge to keep all these operations coordinated.

A coupled system can work very efficiently when an industry is integrated like the sugarcane industry in South Florida, USA. Because the sugar mill owns the production fields surrounding the mill and the roads through these fields, the mill controls all operations (harvesting, hauling, and processing). Sugarcane has to be processed within 24 hours after harvest so the need for a tightly-controlled process is obvious.


Figure 1. Sugar cane harvester delivering material into a dump trailer for delivery to edge of field (Photo by Sam Cooper, courtesy of Sugar Journal, P. O. Box 19084, New Orleans, LA 70179).


Figure 2. Transfer of sugar cane from in-field hauling trailers to highway-hauling trucks.

An example of an uncoupled system is cotton production using the cotton harvester that bales cotton into 7.5-ft diameter by 8-ft long round bales of seed cotton. This system was developed to solve a limitation of the module system. With the module system, in-field hauling trailers (boll buggies), have to cycle continuously between the harvester and the module builder at the edge of the field. The best organized system can typically keep the harvester processing cotton only about 70% of the total field time. Harvesting time is lost when the harvester waits for a trailer to be positioned beside the harvester so the bin on the harvester can be dumped.

Baling is an uncoupled harvest system and this offers a significant advantage. Harvesting does not have to wait for in-field hauling. Round bales, which protect themselves from rain penetration, can be hauled the next day or the next week. Rectangular bales have to be hauled before they are rained on.