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Title: Modeled Impacts of Cover Crops and Vegetative Barriers on Corn Stover Availability and Soil Quality

Environmentally benign, economically viable, and socially acceptable agronomic strategies are needed to launch a sustainable lignocellulosic biofuel industry. Our objective was to demonstrate a landscape planning process that can ensure adequate supplies of corn (Zea mays L.) stover feedstock while protecting and improving soil quality. The Landscape Environmental Assessment Framework (LEAF) was used to develop land use strategies that were then scaled up for five U.S. Corn Belt states (Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota) to illustrate the impact that could be achieved. Our results show an annual sustainable stover supply of 194 million Mg without exceeding soil erosion T values or depleting soil organic carbon [i.e., soil conditioning index (SCI)?>?0] when no-till, winter cover crop, and vegetative barriers were incorporated into the landscape. A second, more rigorous conservation target was set to enhance soil quality while sustainably harvesting stover. By requiring erosion to be <1/2 T and the SCI-organic matter (OM) subfactor to be >?0, the annual sustainable quantity of harvestable stover dropped to148 million Mg. Examining removal rates by state and soil resource showed that soil capability class and slope generally determined the effectiveness of the three conservation practices and the resulting sustainable harvest rate. This emphasizes thatmore » sustainable biomass harvest must be based on subfield management decisions to ensure soil resources are conserved or enhanced, while providing sufficient biomass feedstock to support the economic growth of bioenergy enterprises.« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1939--1234
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: BioEnergy Research; Journal Volume: 7; Journal Issue: 2
Research Org:
Idaho National Laboratory (INL)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
09 BIOMASS FUELS bioenergy; Landscape Environmental Assessment Framework (LEAF; landscape planning; soil conservation; soil quality; sustainable agriculture