Impact of Biomass Removal for Bioenergy on Soil and Water Quality

2009 Annual Report for ENC07-094

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

Impact of Biomass Removal for Bioenergy on Soil and Water Quality


Field Training: Impact of Biomass Removal for Bioenergy on Soil and Water Quality

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.

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 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).
•Improve public understanding of crop residue value for improving soil and water quality.


To achieve the above stated objectives and particularly the short-term ones, the training program focused on providing residue management technical training to agricultural professionals from different agencies, extension personnel, and agriculture industry. Five residue training workshops, field training sessions, roundtables, and one webinar format were conducted in 2009.

In 2009, five training workshops and one webinar were conducted across Iowa, with topics developed based on the discussion and survey outcomes from 2008. Over 150 individuals participated, representing ISU Extension staff, NRCS technical staff and conservationists, crop consultants, agribusiness agronomists, seed and fertilizer dealers, producers, and other agricultural professionals. Most of these professionals obtained CCA credits through these training workshops. The program content was based mostly on the outcomes of the roundtable discussions from the first year of the project. During these workshops the following was presented:

1.Presentations on: The Effect of Residue Management on Soil and Water Quality.
2.Presentations on: Implement Adjustment for Better Residue Management.
3.Presentations on: Cover Crops, Erosion, and Nitrate Leaching.
4.Presentations on: The Value of Soil and Crop Residue.
5.Group discussions and question/answer sessions.
6.End of workshop evaluation by attendees for feedback and ideas for future programming.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

This project was designed to train the trainer on the production and environmental consequences of residue removal for bioenergy or other uses. The technical audience involved in this training works closely with farmers and the ethanol industry. A follow-up survey and evaluation was filled out by all participants to assess the effectiveness of the training and change in trainees’ knowledge base before and after the workshops and training sessions. The results of the 2009 survey showed that 90% of the participants (trainees) found the subject matter of the training relevant to their work. The survey results show that the training met the expectations of 92% of the participants. Ninety-three percent of respondents rated the relevance of the presenters’ content to be good or excellent. We handed out a large amount of materials and information resources to the participants, and 92% of participants rated the effectiveness of these handouts to be good or excellent. Resource materials and education publications made available to participants through project leader web site:


Jamie Benning
Research Associate
Iowa State University
2401 Agronomy Hall
Ames, IA 50011
Office Phone: 5152948039