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Crop and Soil Responses to Using Corn Stover as a Bioenergy Feedstock: Observations from the Northern US Corn Belt
USDA-Agricultural Research Service, North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory, 803 Iowa Ave., Morris, MN 56267, USA
USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Cropping Systems Research Laboratory, Wind Erosion and Water Conservation Unit, 3810 4th Street, Lubbock, TX 79415, USA
USDA-Agricultural Research Service, National Laboratory of Agriculture and the Environment Agroecosystems Management Research Unit 2110 University BLVD, Ames, IA 50011, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 December 2012; in revised form: 31 January 2013 / Accepted: 31 January 2013 / Published: 6 February 2013
Abstract: Corn (Zea mays L.) stover is a potential bioenergy feedstock, but little is known about the impacts of reducing stover return on yield and soil quality in the Northern US Corn Belt. Our study objectives were to measure the impact of three stover return rates (Full (~7.8 Mg ha−1 yr−1), Moderate (~3.8 Mg ha−1 yr−1) or Low (~1.5 Mg ha yr−1) Return) on corn and soybean (Glycine max. L [Merr.]) yields and on soil dynamic properties on a chisel-tilled (Chisel) field, and well- (NT1995) or newly- (NT2005) established no-till managed fields. Stover return rate did not affect corn and soybean yields except under NT1995 where Low Return (2.88 Mg ha−1) reduced yields compared with Full and Moderate Return (3.13 Mg ha−1). In NT1995 at 0–5 cm depth, particulate organic matter in Full Return and Moderate Return (14.3 g kg−1) exceeded Low Return (11.3 g kg−1). In NT2005, acid phosphatase activity was reduced about 20% in Low Return compared to Full Return. Also the Low Return had an increase in erodible-sized dry aggregates at the soil surface compared to Full Return. Three or fewer cycles of stover treatments revealed little evidence for short-term impacts on crop yield, but detected subtle soil changes that indicate repeated harvests may have negative consequences if stover removed.
Keywords: cellulosic feedstock; sustainability; residue management; bioenergy; dry aggregate stability; FAME; particulate organic matter; microbial biomass; soil organic carbon
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Johnson, J.M.F.; Acosta-Martinez, V.; Cambardella, C.A.; Barbour, N.W. Crop and Soil Responses to Using Corn Stover as a Bioenergy Feedstock: Observations from the Northern US Corn Belt. Agriculture 2013, 3, 72-89.
Johnson JMF, Acosta-Martinez V, Cambardella CA, Barbour NW. Crop and Soil Responses to Using Corn Stover as a Bioenergy Feedstock: Observations from the Northern US Corn Belt. Agriculture. 2013; 3(1):72-89.
Johnson, Jane M.F.; Acosta-Martinez, Veronica; Cambardella, Cynthia A.; Barbour, Nancy W. 2013. "Crop and Soil Responses to Using Corn Stover as a Bioenergy Feedstock: Observations from the Northern US Corn Belt." Agriculture 3, no. 1: 72-89.