BioEnergy Research

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 528–539 | Cite as

Multilocation Corn Stover Harvest Effects on Crop Yields and Nutrient Removal

  • Douglas L. KarlenEmail author
  • Stuart J. Birrell
  • Jane M. F. Johnson
  • Shannon L. Osborne
  • Thomas E. Schumacher
  • Gary E. Varvel
  • Richard B. Ferguson
  • Jeff M. Novak
  • James R. Fredrick
  • John M. Baker
  • John A. Lamb
  • Paul R. Adler
  • Greg W. Roth
  • Emerson D. Nafziger


Corn (Zea mays L.) stover was identified as an important feedstock for cellulosic bioenergy production because of the extensive area upon which the crop is already grown. This report summarizes 239 site-years of field research examining effects of zero, moderate, and high stover removal rates at 36 sites in seven different states. Grain and stover yields from all sites as well as N, P, and K removal from 28 sites are summarized for nine longitude and six latitude bands, two tillage practices (conventional vs no tillage), two stover-harvest methods (machine vs calculated), and two crop rotations {continuous corn (maize) vs corn/soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.]}. Mean grain yields ranged from 5.0 to 12.0 Mg ha−1 (80 to 192 bu ac−1). Harvesting an average of 3.9 or 7.2 Mg ha−1 (1.7 or 3.2 tons ac−1) of the corn stover resulted in a slight increase in grain yield at 57 and 51 % of the sites, respectively. Average no-till grain yields were significantly lower than with conventional tillage when stover was not harvested, but not when it was collected. Plant samples collected between physiological maturity and combine harvest showed that compared to not harvesting stover, N, P, and K removal was increased by 24, 2.7, and 31 kg ha−1, respectively, with moderate (3.9 Mg ha−1) harvest and by 47, 5.5, and 62 kg ha−1, respectively, with high (7.2 Mg ha−1) removal. This data will be useful for verifying simulation models and available corn stover feedstock projections, but is too variable for planning site-specific stover harvest.


Bioenergy Sustainable feedstock production Nutrient removal 



The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, age, sex, or national origin and is an equal-opportunity employer. This research was funded by the USDA-Agricultural Research Service as part of the USDA-ARS Resilient Economic Agricultural Practices (REAP) project with additional funds from the North Central Regional Sun Grant Center at South Dakota State University through a grant provided by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)—Office of Biomass Programs [now known as the Bioenergy Technology Office (BETO)] under award number DE-FC36-05GO85041.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas L. Karlen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stuart J. Birrell
    • 2
  • Jane M. F. Johnson
    • 3
  • Shannon L. Osborne
    • 4
  • Thomas E. Schumacher
    • 5
  • Gary E. Varvel
    • 6
  • Richard B. Ferguson
    • 7
  • Jeff M. Novak
    • 8
  • James R. Fredrick
    • 9
  • John M. Baker
    • 10
  • John A. Lamb
    • 11
  • Paul R. Adler
    • 12
  • Greg W. Roth
    • 13
  • Emerson D. Nafziger
    • 14
  1. 1.USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment (NLAE)AmesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural and Biosystems EngineeringIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  3. 3.USDA-ARS-North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory (NCSCRL)MorrisUSA
  4. 4.USDA-ARS-North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory (NCARL)BrookingsUSA
  5. 5.Plant Science DepartmentSouth Dakota State UniversityBrookingsUSA
  6. 6.USDA-ARS-Agroecosystem Management Research Unit (AMRU)LincolnUSA
  7. 7.Department of AgronomyUniversity of Nebraska–LincolnLincolnUSA
  8. 8.USDA-ARS-Costal Plains Soil, Water, & Plant Research Center (CPSWPRC)FlorenceUSA
  9. 9.Clemson University Pee Dee Research & Education Center (PDREC)FlorenceUSA
  10. 10.USDA-ARS, Soil and Water Management Research UnitSt. PaulUSA
  11. 11.Department of Soil, Water and ClimateUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  12. 12.USDA-ARS-Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research Unit (PSWMRU)University ParkUSA
  13. 13.Department of Plant SciencePennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  14. 14.Crop Science DepartmentUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA

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