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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SOIL AND CROP MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS FOR IMPROVED NATURAL RESOURCE QUALITY AND EFFICIENCY

Location: North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory

Title: Corn residue removal impact on soil aggregate distribution and particulate organic matter

Authors
item Hammerbeck, Amber -
item Osborne, Shannon
item Stetson, Sarah
item Schumacher, Thomas -
item Pikul, Joseph -

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: February 9, 2012
Publication Date: March 6, 2012
Citation: Hammerbeck, A., Osborne, S.L., Stetson, S.J., Schumacher, T., Pikul, J.L. 2012. Corn residue removal impact on soil aggregate distribution and particulate organic matter. In: A. Schlegel and H.D. Bond (ed.) Proc. Great Plains Soil Fertility Conf. 14:252-257

Interpretive Summary: Many producers are asking questions regarding the impact of removing crop residue on the following crop (short-term) and the effects this practice might have on soil quality (long-term). To address these concerns, a field study was established in eastern South Dakota in 2000 using no-till soil management within a two-year corn/soybean rotation. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of three residue removal treatments of low, medium, and high on soil quality characteristics. Following four complete rotational cycles (8 years) removal of crop residue from the soil surface resulted in a consistent decrease in the amount of soil organic matter and all fractions of particulate organic matter regardless of aggregate size class, indicating a possible decrease in soil quality. This study illustrated that removal of corn residue had a negative impact on the soil physical and chemical properties measured; potentially illustrating the importance of crop residue to maintain our soil resource, additional research is needed to incorporate other soil chemical and biological indicated before recommendations can be made.

Technical Abstract: Many questions have surfaced regarding short and long term impacts of corn residue removal for use in the biofuels industry. To address these concerns, a field study was established in eastern South Dakota in 2000 using no-till soil management within a two-year corn (Zea mays L.)/soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merrill] rotation. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of three residue removal treatments (low, medium and high) on soil quality, measured through particulate organic matter (POM), soil organic matter (SOM), and dry aggregate size distribution (DASD). Following four complete rotational cycles, residue removed from the soil surface consistently decreased the amount of SOM and all fractions of POM in the surface soil regardless of aggregate size class, indicating a possible decrease in soil quality. Potential further degradation of the soil structure was indicated by a shift in DASD among the residue removal treatments. In conclusion, removal of corn residue had a negative impact on soil physical and chemical properties. This illustrates the importance of crop residue for maintaining our soil resource. Additional research is needed to incorporate other soil chemical and biological indicators before recommendations can be made.

Last Modified: 11/22/2014