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

    Proposal abstract:

    The rapid increase in ethanol production from corn grain and the proposed use of crop residues for ethanol production poses significant challenges in increasing awareness and providing needed training to extension educators and agency staff to address the potential negative environmental impact of intense corn monoculture and corn residue use. The target audience for this training is area extension field agronomists, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) personnel, local crop consultants, and other agriculture professionals. An educational program will be conducted that includes hands-on field training events across the state.

    The short, intermediate, and long-term outcomes for this project will include:
    -increased awareness of the negative impacts of residue removal on soil and water quality,
    -to improve the level of understanding of residue management,
    -and to produce source and training materials that can be used in future training programs, and ultimately increase the adoption of best management practices for residue management.

    Training workshops with classroom and hands-on components demonstrating different residue management scenarios, and field, equipment, and tool demonstrations will be used to achieve these outcomes. Evaluation surveys will be developed to assess the short, intermediate, and potential long-term outcomes. Pre- and post-training surveys will be used to assess participants’ level of knowledge of residue management and related impacts before and after each training program. Potential long-term outcomes will be evaluated through a follow up survey at the end of the project to assess behavior changes and the level of changes due to this project within each area of the state.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Short-term outcomes:
    •Increase the understanding of residue effects on soil and water quality by using a rainfall simulator.
    •Increase awareness of environmental impacts associated with residue removal for the bio-economy 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 in their educational and outreach activities to continue educating producers on the 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 plan (PDP) 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).

    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.