Submitted to: World Congress of Soil Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/9/2014
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Perennial cellulosic biomass and food crop residues are important on-farm resources, which have become potential valuable sources of income as a harvestable commodity contributing to biofuel production demands. Inputs of carbon embedded in above-ground plant biomass are a key biological energy source for the soil surface – a zone of great importance in the success of food-feed-fiber production and ecological processes essential to environmental quality. This review of literature looks at how above-ground plant biomass contributes to soil properties and processes, water conservation and quality, on-farm forage availability, and as a harvestable biofuel component. Competing needs for this resource could cause serious environmental or economic consequences without sufficient knowledge of their potential impacts. Perennial forages and crop residues are critical for providing surface cover to protect soils against erosion, provide the organic inputs to support below-ground ecosystems, and provide the building blocks for soil organic matter. The amount of biomass required to maintain soil organic matter and various ecosystem services linked to this key soil property may, in many cases, exceed that needed for simple erosion control. Achieving a balanced outcome will require scientific evidence, as well as well-designed government policies, for crop residue utilization schemes to contribute to a sustainable agricultural approach.