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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ECOLOGICALLY-BASED SOIL AND CROP MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE Title: Evaluating the Removal of Corn Residue on Crop Production and Soil Quality

Authors
item Osborne, Shannon
item Pikul Jr, Joseph

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: November 14, 2007
Publication Date: November 14, 2007
Citation: Osborne, S.L., Pikul Jr, J.L. 2007. Evaluating the Removal of Corn Residue on Crop Production and Soil Quality. 37th North Central Extension-Industry Soil Fertility Conference, Des Moines IA, November 14-15, 2007.

Interpretive Summary: Many producers wonder what removing corn residue as a possible feedstock for the biofuels industry will do to the soil and the following crop. A field study was established in 2000 to address these and other questions. Experimental treatments include three corn residue removal levels (low, mid and high); corn harvested for grain and all residue remains on the soil surface, corn harvested for grain, residue racked, baled and removed, and corn removed as silage respectively, all conducted in under no-till soil management. There was no difference in soybean yield following corn residual. Soil organic carbon levels decreased for the high residue removal treatment compared to the low residue removal treatment at all of the sampling depths. Changes in organic carbon from 2000 to 2005 resulted in an increase in soil carbon at all depths for the low residue removal treatment; with the mid and high treatments have a net loss in organic carbon. Although removal of corn residue appears not to have a negative impact on the following crop (soybean) yield in the short run (5 years), there was a negative impact of soil carbon under a no-till situation when residue was removed from the production practice. Additional research is underway to evaluate the impact of residue removal on other measures of soil quality, and also crop mineral nutrition.

Technical Abstract: Removal for corn residue as a possible feedstock for the biofuels industry has left many producers with a number of unanswered questions. These include what impact will this have on the following crop and also the impact on soil quality associated with this practice. A field study was established in 2000 to address these and other questions. Experimental treatments include three corn residue removal levels (low, mid and high); corn harvested for grain and all residue remains on the soil surface, corn harvested for grain, residue racked, baled and removed, and corn removed as silage respectively, all conducted in under no-till soil management. There was no difference in soybean yield following corn residual. Soil organic carbon levels decreased for the high residue removal treatment compared to the low residue removal treatment at all of the sampling depths. Changes in organic carbon from 2000 to 2005 resulted in an increase in soil carbon at all depths for the low residue removal treatment; with the mid and high treatments have a net loss in organic carbon. Although removal of corn residue appears not to have a negative impact on the following crop (soybean) yield in the short run (5 years), there was a negative impact of soil carbon under a no-till situation when residue was removed from the production practice. Additional research is underway to evaluate the impact of residue removal on other measures of soil quality, and also crop mineral nutrition.

Last Modified: 11/23/2014