Research was carried out in southern Italy with the aim to assess the quality of faba bean residual biomass and its potential for biorefinery application. Faba bean is a sustainable crop, due to its ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, and a large amount of biomass remains after harvest which can be valorised for energy production. Greenhouse and early planting are known to affect pod yield and, in this respect, even the residual biomass quality needs to be assessed. For this purpose, the effects of five planting times (i.e. the dates of transplants ranging from 27 September to 22 November at two-week interval, earlier and later than the common planting date of 25 October in Naples province) on pods yield, residual biomass, and saccharification potential were evaluated in faba bean grown in open field and in greenhouse. The third planting time resulted in the highest fruit and residual biomass yield under greenhouse, whereas the fourth was the best in open field. Harvest index was best affected by the third and fourth planting times in open field. Greenhouse grown biomass showed higher values of lignin, hemicellulose and pectin, compared to open field, whereas the opposite trend was recorded with cellulose. Lignin content showed a gradual decrease from the first to the last planting time (17.7%–13.7% biomass fraction respectively), as well as pectin (from 14.1 to 11.5% biomass fraction); conversely, cellulose increased from the first to the last planting time (from 41.1 to 48.7% biomass fraction). Glucose was the most represented monosaccharide (46.7 mol%), followed by xylose (27.4 mol%) and galactose (9.9 mol%). Overall, the potential of faba bean residual biomass for energy production was best affected by open field growing, the latest planting time and alkali pre-treatment, the latter giving the highest value of saccharification (60.7 g kg−1 h−1 compared to 27.6 relevant to hot water pre-treatment).
- Harvest index
- Vicia faba L.