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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Morris, Minnesota » Soil Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #248895

Title: Organic Matter Balance: Managing for Soil Protection and Bioenergy Production

item Johnson, Jane

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/7/2010
Publication Date: 1/7/2010
Citation: Johnson, J.M. 2010. Organic Matter Balance: Managing for Soil Protection and Bioenergy Production. In: Proceedings of the Southwest Agricultural Conference, January 6-7, 2010, Chatham, Ontario, Canada. p. 9-12.

Interpretive Summary: Interest in renewable alternatives to fossil energy has increased. Crop residue such as corn stover or wheat straw can be used to produce ethanol. Crop residues can also be used as a substitute for natural gas or coal. Harvesting crop residue needs to be managed to protect the soil and future soil productivity. The amount of biomass required to stay on the land to prevent loss of soil organic matter can exceed the amount needed to limit erosion. The amount of plant nutrients removed varies by crop and harvest rate. Soil tests and crop monitoring are recommended to avoid plant nutrient deficiencies. Impact: This information will educate industry, crop consultants, and producers of the benefits and risks associated with harvested crop biomass for plant-based energy. As a society, we need to conserve energy and resources. In addition, we need to find ways to increase long-term carbon storage in soil, protect the soil and water resource, while providing food, feed, fiber and fuel for the world. [REAP Publication]

Technical Abstract: Soils are an important natural resource allowing the production of food, feed, fiber and fuel. The growing demand for these services or products requires we protect the soil resource. Many characteristics of high quality soils can be related to the quantity and quality of soil organic matter (organic carbon). Erosion removes the organic matter rich topsoil. As technology advances to use non-grain biomass for energy feedstocks, it is vital to assure that sufficient biomass is returned to the land to control erosion and maintain soil organic matter. Sustainable harvest rates are needed, coupled with cover crop and conservation practices to maintain and improve soil during this era of growing demands. [REAP Publication]