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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPMENT OF MODELS AND CONSERVATION PRACTICES FOR WATER QUALITY MANAGEMENT AND RESOURCE ASSESSMENTS

Location: Grassland, Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Title: Corn residue removal effects on soybean yield and nitrogen dynamics in the Upper Mississippi River Basin

Authors
item Meki, Manyowa -
item Atwood, Jay -
item Norfleet, Lee -
item Williams, Jimmy -
item Gerik, Thomas -
item Kiniry, James

Submitted to: Journal of Sustainable Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 22, 2012
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: When using corn leaves and stems as biofuel, there can be impacts on subsequent crops in the rotation, in particular soybean. We used the APEX computer simulation model to assess the impacts of four rates of corn residue removals; 0%, 40%, 60%, and 80%, on subsequent soybean yields across highly erodible (HEL) and non HEL land types; three broad soil textural classes; clayey, loamy, and sandy, and the four soil hydrologic groups. We looked at N dynamics for 3703 farm fields within the Upper Mississippi River Basin. Overall, residue removal reduced soybean N fixation by 6%, and yields by 8%. Of the other factors, soil texture and hydrologic group differences impacted yields more than did land type. Soil N storage with no residue removal increased by a maximum of 229 kg ha-1, while the 40%, 60% and 80% residue removal rates reduced soil N storage relative to the 0% residue removal rate by approximately 221, 280 and 346 kg ha**-1, respectively. Nitrogen losses during the soybean-years are relatively small, and on average 56% lower than losses in the corn-years. Corn residue removal-induced reduction in N fixation and soil N storage should impact the size of the soybean N credit generally used in N fertilizer recommendations for corn/soybean rotations in the USA Corn Belt. This study underscores the need for holistic approaches to sustainably manage corn/soybean biofuel feedstocks production systems to meet the food and fiber needs of the nation, while also providing the much needed feedstocks for the emerging bioenergy industry.

Technical Abstract: Considerations for using corn residues as a biofuel feedstock should include impacts on subsequent crops in the rotation, in particular soybean. We used the APEX model to assess the impacts of four rates of corn residue removals; 0%, 40%, 60%, and 80%, across two land types; highly erodible (HEL) and non-HEL, three broad soil textural classes; clayey, loamy, and sandy, and the four soil hydrologic groups; A, B, C, and D, on soybean yield and N dynamics for 3703 farm fields within the Upper Mississippi River Basin. Overall, residue removal reduced soybean N fixation by 6%, and yields by 8%. Of the other factors, soil texture and hydrologic group differences impacted yields more than did land type. Soil N storage with no residue removal increased by a maximum of 229 kg ha-1, while the 40%, 60% and 80% residue removal rates reduced soil N storage relative to the 0% residue removal rate by approximately 221, 280 and 346 kg ha**-1, respectively. Nitrogen losses during the soybean-years are relatively small, and on average 56% lower than losses in the corn-years. Corn residue removal-induced reduction in N fixation and soil N storage should impact the size of the soybean N credit generally used in N fertilizer recommendations for corn/soybean rotations in the USA Corn Belt. This study underscores the need for holistic approaches to sustainably manage corn/soybean biofuel feedstocks production systems to meet the food and fiber needs of the nation, while also providing the much needed feedstocks for the emerging bioenergy industry.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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