Corn Residue Removal Impacts on Soil, Water, and Air Resources for Biofuel Production

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2009: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Grant Recipient: Iowa State University
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Mahdi Al-Kaisi
Iowa State University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage, continuous cropping, no-till
  • Education and Training: extension
  • Energy: bioenergy and biofuels
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Soil Management: soil analysis, soil physics, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    Crop residues have a significant role in improving soil productivity and sustaining soil and environmental qualities. It has been well documented through research over the past many decades that crop residues are critical for replenishing soil organic C. This is done through conservation practices which include minimum tillage, proper management of crop residues, and efficient soil fertility. Crop residues also have significant roles in improving physical and chemical properties that are essential in protecting soil by controlling wind and water erosion, which ultimately reduce sediments and other contaminants transport to water bodies. However, new research is required to focus on various levels of crop residue removal for biofuel production with different N management and tillage practices to see how much (if any), crop residue can be removed and still sustain high soil and crop productivity. Furthermore, the potential nutrient input loss from corn residue removal is not well understood. Nutrient inputs from left over crop residues depend on residue type, amount of residue, soil contact, climate, tillage, and management practices.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The objective of this project is to establish coordinated field studies to determine the short-term and long-term impacts of varying corn residue removal and N fertilization rates and tillage systems on soil, air, and water resources. The project has five anticipated outcomes which include reliable estimates for: (1) amount of C and nutrients removed and returned to the soil by residue, (2) soil C and N sequestration potential with different residue management practices, (3) amount of greenhouse gas emissions, (4) assessing needs for supplemental fertilization of following crops and cost, and (5) impacts on soil physical properties.

    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.