2012 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Determine effects of crop residue removal on soil quality, crop yields, and residue feedstock quality.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
On-going studies at the USDA-ARS-CPRC and at the Clemson University, Pee Dee
Research and Education Center (PDREC) will be enhanced by providing additional
analyses for improving soil quality, enhancing crop yields, and assessing the
suitability of crop residues as feedstocks for thermal chemical conversion. More
information will be gathered on residue removal influences on profile soil physicochemical properties, changes in crop yield and grain quality, and ascertaining residue quality as a feedstock for thermal chemical conversion. This study will complement the ARS Renewable Energy Assessment Project (REAP) team efforts with similar resources at eight participating ARS locations. Equal resources per the SunGrant program are available to university partners (i.e., PDREC) to strengthen the research, provide additional agronomic expertise, and improve technology transfer products and relationships with customers.
This five-year project relates to inhouse project sub-objective 2b (corn residue removal): To determine the impact of removing different fractions of corn residue from plots on succeeding crop yields, crop elemental composition, thermal energy equivalents, and soil chemical/physical properties.
Processing of biofuel using crop residue requires its harvesting from agricultural fields; however, it is not known how sustainable removing crop residue is without a severe decline in subsequent yields or soil fertility levels. Results from the 4th corn crop cycle were very low due to unusually high June and July temperatures and marginal monthly rainfall totals. Testing the soil’s fertility level, however, revealed a progressive decline in topsoil potassium concentrations due to nutrient removal with the harvested corn residue. Agricultural producers may need to offset these nutrient losses by modifying existing fertilizer management practices.