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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Auburn, Alabama » Soil Dynamics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #317733

Research Project: Sustainable Production, Profit, and Environmental Stewardship through Conservation Systems

Location: Soil Dynamics Research

Title: Carbohydrate and nutrient composition of corn stover from three Southeastern USA locations

Author
item Mourtzinis, Spyridon - University Of Wisconsin
item Cantrell, Keri
item Arriaga, Francisco - University Of Wisconsin
item Balkcom, Kipling
item Novak, Jeffrey - Jeff
item Frederick, James - Clemson University
item Karlen, Douglas

Submitted to: Biomass and Bioenergy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/27/2015
Publication Date: 12/21/2015
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/62803
Citation: Mourtzinis, S., Cantrell, K.B., Arriaga, F.J., Balkcom, K.S., Novak, J.M., Frederick, J.R., Karlen, D.L. 2015. Carbohydrate and nutrient composition of corn stover from three Southeastern USA locations. Biomass and Bioenergy. 85:153-158.

Interpretive Summary: Corn stover has been identified as an important feedstock for bioenergy and bio-product production. University researchers in conjunction with ARS researchers at the Coastal Plains Soil, Water, and Plant Research Center, Florence, SC; National Soil Dynamics Laboratory, Auburn, AL; and National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, Ames, IA quantified nutrient removal, carbohydrate composition, and theoretical ethanol yield (TEY) for various corn stover fractions grown in South Carolina and Alabama. The distribution of carbohydrates, nutrients, and TEY varied significantly among corn stover fractions and research locations. This indicates that site-specific sampling and analysis should be used to optimize bioenergy and bio-product utilization of corn stover. However, above-ear stover fractions were most desirable for cellulosic ethanol production at each location. Nutrient removal was reduced 24 to 61% by harvesting only above-ear stover fractions compared to harvesting all stover biomass. Reducing nutrient removal while enhancing ethanol production indicates cellulosic biomass production may have potential as a component of a sustainable farming system.

Technical Abstract: Corn (Zea mays L.) stover has been identified as an important feedstock for bioenergy and bio-product production. Our objective was to quantify nutrient removal, carbohydrate composition, theoretical ethanol yield (TEY) for various stover fractions. In 2009, 2010, and 2011, whole-plant samples were collected from one field study in South Carolina (SC) and two in Alabama (AL). Soils at the SC site were classified as a Coxville/Rains-Goldboro-Lynchburg association, while those in AL were either Compass or Decatur. Plants were collected from two 1-m row segments, ears were removed and shelled. A portion of the remaining stalks were dried and ground to represent whole-plant stover. The remaining stalks were fractionated into stalk and leaf biomass from below the ear (bottom), stalk and leaf biomass from above the ear (top), cobs, and grain. A fifth sample representing "above-ear" biomass that might be collected mechanically was calculated using the weight ratios of the top and cob fractions. Carbohydrate and nutrient concentrations were estimated using near-infrared reflective spectroscopy (NIRS) and TEY was calculated. The distribution of carbohydrates, nutrients, and TEY varied significantly among the corn stover fraction and research locations. This indicates that sitespecific sampling and analysis should be used to optimize bioenergy and bio-product utilization of corn stover. However, at every location, the above-ear stover fractions were most desirable for cellulosic ethanol production. Furthermore, harvesting only above-ear stover fractions would reduce nutrient removal by 24 to 61% when compared to harvesting all stover biomass.