Impact of Biomass Removal for Bioenergy on Soil and Water Quality

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2007: $50,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Mahdi Al-Kaisi
Iowa State University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, oats, rye, soybeans


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research
  • Energy: bioenergy and biofuels
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration
  • Soil Management: soil analysis, organic matter, soil quality/health


    An educational training program on residue management was conducted through a series of workshops and field training sessions across Iowa during 2009. A total of five workshops, field training sessions, and two Webinars were held in the summer of 2009. During these workshops, presentations followed by group discussions were conducted. An evaluation of the program activities showed that over 90% of the participants found the subject matter of the training to be relevant to their work. During the 2009 training project, over 150 agricultural professionals received training. In the 2009 survey and evaluation, trainees estimated this training will affect over 4,000 individuals and 500,000 acres across Iowa. The survey results also showed that the level of understanding the basic role of residue in improving soil and water quality improved from 37% before the training to 86% after the training was completed.

    Project objectives:

    Project Objectives/Performance Targets:
    The expected short, intermediate, and long-term outcomes of this training program will reflect the main objectives; these outcomes will be documented through qualitative and quantitative means.

    Short-term outcomes:
    •Increase the understanding of residue effects on soil and water quality by using a rainfall simulator.
    •Increase awareness of environmental impacts for the bio-economy associated with residue removal and other residue uses such as animal feeding.
    •Improve understanding of converting CRP land to row crops such as corn-soybean or continuous corn.
    •Increase the level of understanding of residue management and residue’s role in improving soil and water quality.

    Intermediate outcomes:
    •Increase residue management practice adoption by farmers to maintain residue cover as recommended by conservation plans to protect soil and water quality.
    •Incorporate residue management practices by NRCS staff and extension educators into their educational and outreach activities, to continue educating producers on proper residue management practices.
    •Produce training materials and guidelines that can be utilized by agriculture professionals and shared with other North Central states’ Professional Development Program coordinators.
    •Increase public awareness about the importance of crop residue and its role in protecting our soil resources.

    Long-term Outcomes:
    •Increase the adoption of best management practices in residue removal.
    •Increase the adoption of conservation practices in corn production.
    •Increase the adoption of residue management technology (e.g., residue cleaners, use of no-till in continuous corn production).
    •Improve public understanding of crop residue value for improving soil and water quality.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.