Location: Agroecosystem Management ResearchTitle: Corn residue removal effects on subsequent yield
Submitted to: Nebraska Beef Reports
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/16/2012
Publication Date: 11/1/2012
Citation: Wienhold, B.J., Varvel, G.E., Jin, V.L., Mitchell, R., Vogel, K.P. 2012. Corn residue removal effects on subsequent yield. 2013 Beef Cattle Report. MP98. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. p. 40-41.
Interpretive Summary: Plant material remaining in the field after harvest protects the soil from water and wind erosion and provides nutrients to the subsequent crop. Plant material is being used for livestock feed and has been identified as a future source for production of biofuel. Removing this plant material may have a negative effect on the soil. Removing plant material from a corn field receiving only precipitation resulted in a small yield decrease and an increase in soil organic matter. Removing plant material from an irrigated site that was disk tilled or no-tilled resulted in a loss of soil organic matter. Removal of plant material also increased water erosion. Response to removing plant material is site specific.
Technical Abstract: Corn residue is used for forage and feed, but residue removal effects on soil properties and yield is a concern. Residue removal effects on corn yields and soil organic carbon is site specific. Removing 50% of the residue from rainfed sites reduced corn yield by 1.9 bu/acre, whereas removing 40% of the residue from irrigated sites increased corn yield by 15.4 bu/acre. However, removing 53% of the residue increased soil erosion by 30%. Agronomic practices such as reduced tillage, cover crops, or manure may offset residue removal impacts. Residue removal should be based on site-specific characteristics and management, but is feasible when sufficient residue is retained to protect soil from erosion and sustain soil biota.