Submitted to: Global Change Biology Bioenergy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 25, 2010
Publication Date: September 7, 2010
Citation: Karlen, D.L. 2010. Corn Stover Feedstock Trials to Support Predictive Modeling. Global Change Biology-Bioenergy. 2:235-247. Interpretive Summary: A subset of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Renewable Energy Assessment Project (REAP) team has partnered with several university scientists to form the Corn Stover Regional Partnership in order to quantify the sustainability of harvesting corn stover as a feedstock for bioenergy production or other uses. This report, presented in part at the 2009 American Society of Agronomy annual meeting, provides an overview of how the Regional Partnership is organized, the research objectives and approaches being used, and some preliminary results from this multi-location project. The manuscript concludes that REAP and the Regional Partnership are good examples of highly successful multi-location projects that are delivering crucial information to conservationists, producers, and the bioenergy industry.
Technical Abstract: To be sustainable, feedstock harvest for second-generation biofuels and other bio-products must neither degrade soil, water, or air resources nor negatively impact grain or oilseed crop yields needed to meet food and feed demands. Simulation modeling will help guide the design and development of sustainable feedstock production practices, but not without field validation. This presentation provides an overview of field research being conducted by the Corn Stover Regional Partnership team, a subset of the ARS Renewable Energy Assessment Project (REAP) team, in cooperation with university partners in six states. Sustainable corn (Zea mays L.) stover harvest is the focus for this project because it was identified as an abundant, potential source of cellulosic feedstock in the Billion Ton Report. Soil organic carbon (SOC) and several other indicators are being monitored to assess the impact of various harvest scenarios on the sustainability of soil resources. First year stover removal rates ranged from 0 to 7 Mg ha-1 and increased N-P-K removal by an average of 42, 5, and 45 kg ha-1 compared to harvesting only grain. Replacing these three nutrients alone would cost $53.68 ha-1 based on 2009 fertilizer prices. Drought limited corn production at the South Carolina (SC) location in 2008. Storms accompanied by high winds prior to harvest resulted in extensive lodging and major harvest problems throughout Minnesota (MN). Stover harvest treatments are being repeated in 2009, with plans to continue this multi-location study through 2012. The information gathered will assist in the development of a long-term landscape vision, whereby multiple feedstock sources can be integrated into regionally specific, sustainable feedstock production systems.