The objective of this research was to evaluate the biogas production from crops in boreal conditions, focusing on the optimal pre-treatment and storage methods, co-digestion and energy balance of farm-scale crop based biogas plants. Alkaline treatments offered some potential for improving the methane yield from grass and sugar beet tops. The results show that the CH4 yield of energy crops can be maintained by appropriate ensiling conditions for even after 11 months in ambient conditions. The CH4 yield was best preserved with wet grass mixture without additives. Co-digestion of manure and crops was shown to be feasible with feedstock volatile solids (VS) containing up to 40% of crops. The highest specific methane yields of 268, 229 and 213 l CH4 kg−1 VSadded in co-digestion of cow manure with grass, sugar beet tops and straw, respectively, were obtained during feeding with 30% of crop in the feedstock, corresponding to 85–105% of the total methane potential in the substrates as determined by batch assays. The energy output:input ratio of farm-scale grass silage based biogas plant varied significantly (3.5–8.2) with different assumptions and system boundaries being lowest when using only inorganic fertilizers and highest when half of the heat demand of the system could be covered by metabolic heat.

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