Location: Soil Management ResearchTitle: Safeguarding soil serves societal needs
Submitted to: CSA News
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/12/2018
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Cellulosic ethanol made from crop residues has become a reality, placing additional burdens on the soil resource. Preserving the soil resource is a fundament for meeting current and future societal needs. In an upcoming issue of the Agronomy Journal, the paper summarizes the benefits and risks of using stover for biofuel production as well as the role of crop residues, management strategies, and integrated technologies to sustain harvest and protect the soil. It is one of a series of papers that emerged from the ASA/CSSA/SSSA workshop on crop residue removal for advanced biofuel production. The paper reviews strategies for safeguarding soil including limiting where and how much residues are harvested, modifying tillage practices to keep the soil covered, adding cover crops and incorporating perennials on the landscape. Research and modeling highlight the need for synthesis and meta-analysis of long-term studies to provide scientifically defensible life-cycle analysis for addressing changes in soil organic carbon related to harvesting feedstock. Reaping the economic, energy and greenhouse gas mitigation benefits of harvesting corn stover can be realized provided harvest is done in a judicious manner that does not result in erosion or degradation of the non-renewable soil resource.