Rye (Secale cerealis) has been widely cultivated to improve soil quality in temperate paddies. However, its biomass incorporation can significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions, particularly the emission of methane (CH4), during rice cultivation. The chemical composition and productivity of cover crop biomass may vary at different growing stages. Therefore, nutrient productivity and CH4 production potential might be controlled by selecting the optimum harvesting stage. To investigate the effect of rye harvesting stage on nutrient productivity and CH4 production potential, rye was harvested at different growing stages, from the flowering stage to the maturing stage, for seven weeks. The chemical composition and biomass productivity of rye were investigated. CH4 production was measured by laboratory incubation, and CH4 production potential was estimated to determine the real impact on CH4 dynamics in rice soils. Rye biomass increased with plant maturation, but nutrient productivities such as N (nitrogen), P2O5, and K2O were maximized at the flowering stage. The contents of cellulose and lignin increased significantly as plants matured, but the total N, labile organic carbon (C), and hot and cold water-extractable organic C clearly decreased. Soils were mixed with 0.3% (wt wt− 1 on dry weight) air-dried biomass and incubated to measure the maximum CH4 productivity at 30 °C under flooded conditions. Maximum CH4 productivity was significantly correlated with increasing labile organic C and protein content, but it was negatively correlated with total organic C, cellulose, and lignin content. CH4 production potentials were significantly increased up to the pre-maturing stage (220 DAS) and remained unchanged thereafter. As a result, CH4 production potential per N productivity was the lowest at the late flowering stage (198–205 DAS), which could be the best harvesting stage as well as the most promising stage for increasing nutrient production and decreasing GHG emissions in temperate mono-rice paddy soils.
Kim, S. Y., Park, C. K., Gwon, H. S., Khan, M. I., & Kim, P. J. (2015). Optimizing the harvesting stage of rye as a green manure to maximize nutrient production and to minimize methane production in mono-rice paddies. Science of the Total Environment, 537(December), 441-446. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.07.061