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Agriculture 2013, 3(1), 72-89; doi:10.3390/agriculture3010072
Article

Crop and Soil Responses to Using Corn Stover as a Bioenergy Feedstock: Observations from the Northern US Corn Belt

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Received: 21 December 2012; in revised form: 31 January 2013 / Accepted: 31 January 2013 / Published: 6 February 2013
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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 cellulosic feedstock; sustainability; residue management; bioenergy; dry aggregate stability; FAME; particulate organic matter; microbial biomass; soil organic carbon
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

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.

AMA Style

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.

Chicago/Turabian Style

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.

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