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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Implications of Using Corn Stalks As a Biofuel Source: a Joint ARS and Doe Project

Authors
item Wilhelm, Wallace
item Cushman, Janet - OAKRIDGE NATL LAB

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: September 1, 2003
Publication Date: October 1, 2003
Citation: Wilhelm, W.W., and Cushman, J. 2003. Implications of using corn stalks as a biofuel source: A joint ARS and DOE project [abstract]. EOS. Trans. AGU, 84(46), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract B51B-05.

Technical Abstract: Corn stover is a readily source of biomass for cellulosic ethanol production, and may provide additional income for growers. Published research shows that residue removal changes the rate of soil physical, chemical, and biological processes, and in turn, crop growth. Building a sustainable cellulosic ethanol industry based on corn residue requires residue management practices that do not reduce long-term productivity. To develop such systems, impacts of stover removal on the soil and subsequent crops must be quantified. The ARS/DOE Biofuel Project is the cooperative endeavor among scientists from six western Corn Belt US Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) locations and US Dept. of Energy. The objectives of the project are to determine the influence of stover removal on crop productivity, soil aggregation, quality, carbon content, and seasonal energy balance, and carbon sequestration. When residue is removed soil temperatures fluctuate more and soil water evaporation is greater. Residue removal reduces the amount of soil organic carbon (SOC), but the degree of reduction is highly dependent on degree of tillage, quantity of stover removed, and frequency of stover removal. Of the three cultural factors (stover removal, tillage, and N fertilization) tillage had the greatest effect on amount of corn-derived SOC. No tillage tends to increase the fraction of aggregates in the 2.00 to 0.25 mm size range at all removal rates. Stover harvest reduces corn-derived SOC by 35% compared to retaining stover on the soil averaged over all tillage systems. Corn stover yield has not differed across stover removal treatments in these studies. In the irrigated study, grain yield increased with stover removal. In the rain-fed studies, grain yield has not differed among residue management treatments. Incorporating the biomass ethanol fermentation by-product into a soil with low SOC showed a positive relationship between the amount of lignin added and the subsequent humic acid concentration and aggregate stability. These and future outcomes from this effort will provide DOE and the developing biomass ethanol industry knowledge and guidelines on the environmental and crop productivity consequences of large-scale collection of corn stover. [REAP Publication]

Last Modified: 11/28/2014
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