Submitted to: Western Australia No-Till Farmers Association Newsletter
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: September 15, 2011
Publication Date: October 1, 2011
Citation: Karlen, D.L. 2011. Crop stubble needs and opportunities. Western Australia No-Till Farmers Association Newsletter (WANTFA). New Frontiers in Agriculture. 19(3):112-115. Technical Abstract: Farmers in Australia and elsewhere around the world are being offered opportunities to market their crop residues as a bioenergy feedstock, but many are not aware of how that could affect their soil resources. This report shares information from the USDA-ARS Renewable Energy Assessment Project (REAP) team regarding the potentail short- (1 to 3 year) and long-term (>10 year) effects of harvesting crop residues. The relationship between the ARS REAP and the Sun Grant Regional Partnership is also discussed. Harvest rates of 1 to 1.5 tons per acre of dry corn stover appear to have few short-term effects on soil resources or subsequent crop yields. Excessive crop residue removal, however, has the potential to degrade soil resources and reduce long-term productivity. For wheat and other grass straws, the minimum amount needed before considering any harvest is three tons per acre. That amount would allow 1.5 tons per acre to be left to sustain the soil resource and provide enough additional material to justify the bailing costs. The key message for producers is that stover harvest should be approached using site-specific practices and with a good knowledge of your soil resources.