To be sustainable, feedstock harvest must neither degrade soil, water, or air resources nor negatively impact productivity or subsequent crop yields. Simulation modeling will help guide the development of sustainable feedstock production practices, but not without field validation. This paper introduces field research being conducted in six states to support Sun Grant Regional Partnership modeling. Our objectives are to (1) provide a fundamental understanding of limiting factor(s) affecting corn (Zea mays L.) stover harvest, (2) develop tools (e.g., equations, models, etc.) that account for those factors, and (3) create a multivariant analysis framework to combine models for all limiting factors. Sun Grant modelers will use this information to improve regional estimates of feedstock availability. A minimum data set, including soil organic carbon (SOC), total N, pH, bulk density (BD), and soil-test phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) concentrations, is being collected. Stover yield for three treatments (0%, 50%, and 90% removal) and concentrations of N, P, and K in the harvested stover are being quantified to assess the impact of stover harvest on soil resources. Grain yield at a moisture content of 155 g kg−1 averaged 9.71 Mg ha−1, matching the 2008 national average. Stover dry matter harvest rates ranged from 0 to 7 Mg ha−1. Harvesting stover increased N–P–K removal by an average of 42, 5, and 45 kg ha−1 compared with harvesting only grain. Replacing those three nutrients would cost $53.68 ha−1 based on 2009 fertilizer prices. This first-year data and that collected in subsequent years is being used to develop a residue management tool that will ultimately link multiple feedstock supplies together in a landscape vision to help develop a comprehensive carbon management plan, quantify corn stover harvest effects on soil quality, and predict regional variability in feedstock supplies.

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Douglas L. Karlen
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