Advertisement

BioEnergy Research

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 1101–1108 | Cite as

Soil Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Carbon Dynamics of a No-Till, Corn-Based Cellulosic Ethanol Production System

  • R. Michael LehmanEmail author
  • Shannon L. Osborne
Article

Abstract

Crop residues like corn (Zea mays L.) stover perform important functions that promote soil health and provide ecosystem services that influence agricultural sustainability and global biogeochemical cycles. We evaluated the effect of corn stover removal from a no-till, corn-soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr) rotation on soil greenhouse gas (GHG; CO2, N2O, CH4) fluxes, crop yields, and soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics. We conducted a 4-year study using replicated field plots managed with two levels of corn stover removal (none; 55 % stover removal) for four complete crop cycles prior to initiation of ground surface gas flux measurements. Corn and soybean yields were not affected by stover removal with yields averaging 7.28 Mg ha−1 for corn and 2.64 Mg ha−1 for soybean. Corn stover removal treatment did not affect soil GHG fluxes from the corn phase; however, the treatment did significantly increase (107 %, P = 0.037) N2O fluxes during the soybean phase. The plots were a net source of CH4 (∼0.5 kg CH4-C ha−1 year−1 average of all treatments and crops) during the generally wet study duration. Soil organic carbon stocks increased in both treatments during the 4-year study (initiated following 8 years of stover removal), with significantly higher SOC accumulation in the control plots compared to plots with corn stover removal (0–15 cm, P = 0.048). Non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions (945 kg CO2-eq ha−1 year−1) were roughly half of SOC (0–30 cm) gains with corn stover removal (1.841 Mg CO2-eq ha−1 year−1) indicating that no-till practices greatly improve the viability of biennial corn stover harvesting under local soil-climatic conditions. Our results also show that repeated corn stover harvesting may increase N loss (as N2O) from fields and thereby contribute to GHG production and loss of potential plant nutrients.

Keywords

Corn stover Cellulosic ethanol GRACEnet Greenhouse gases Maize (Zea mays L.) Methane Nitrous oxide No-till Soil organic carbon Soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr) 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was funded by the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) as part of the USDA-ARS-REAP (Resilient Economic Agricultural Practices) and GRACEnet projects, with additional funding provided by the North Central Regional Sun Grant Center at South Dakota State University through a grant provided by the US Department of Energy (DOE) – Office of Biomass Programs [now Bioenergy Technology Office (BETO)] under award number DE-FC36-05GO85041. Technical assistance in the field and/or lab is acknowledged from Kurt Dagel, Amy Christie, and Sharon Nichols.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Disclaimer

Mention of trade names or commercial products in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the US Department of Agriculture. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Supplementary material

12155_2016_9754_MOESM1_ESM.pptx (425 kb)
Figure S1 (PPTX 424 kb)
12155_2016_9754_MOESM2_ESM.pptx (67 kb)
Figure S2 (PPTX 67 kb)
12155_2016_9754_MOESM3_ESM.pptx (51 kb)
Figure S3 (PPTX 50 kb)

References

  1. 1.
    RFA (2015) Going Global - 2015 Ethanol Industry Outlook. Renewable Fuels Association, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Farrell AE, Plevin RJ, Turner BT, Jones AD, O’Hare MO, Kammen DM (2006) Ethanol can contribute to energy and environmental goals. Science 311:506–508CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Tilman D, Socolow R, Foley JA, Hill J, Larson E, Lynd L, Pacala S, Reilly J, Searchinger T, Somerville C (2009) Beneficial biofuels—the food, energy, and environment trilemma. Science 325(5938):270CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Robertson GP, Dale VH, Doering OC, Hamburg SP, Melillo JM, Wander MM, Parton WJ, Adler PR, Barney JN, Cruse RM, Duke CS, Fearnside PM, Follett RF, Gibbs HK, Goldemberg J, Mladenoff DJ, Ojima D, Palmer MW, Sharpley A, Wallace L, Weathers KC, Wiens JA, Wilhelm WW (2008) Sustainable biofuels redux. Science 322(5898):49–50. doi: 10.1126/science.1161525 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hill J, Polasky S, Nelson E, Tilman D, Huo H, Ludwig L, Neumann J, Zheng H, Bonta D (2009) Climate change and health costs of air emissions from biofuels and gasoline. Proc Natl Acad Sci 106(6):2077–2082CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Searchinger T, Heimlich R, Houghton RA, Dong F, Elobeid A, Fabiosa J, Tokgoz S, Hayes D, Yu T-H (2008) Use of U.S. croplands for biofuels increases greenhouse gases through emissions from land-use change. Science 319(5867):1238–1240. doi: 10.1126/science.1151861 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Gramig BM, Reeling CJ, Cibin R, Chaubey I (2013) Environmental and economic trade-offs in a watershed when using corn stover for bioenergy. Environ Sci Technol 47(4):1784–1791CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Wilhelm WW, Hess JR, Karlen DL, Johnson JMF, Muth DJ, Baker JM, Gollany HT, Novak JM, Stott DE, Varvel GE (2010) Balancing limiting factors & economic drivers for sustainable Midwestern US agricultural residue feedstock supplies. Ind Biotechnol 6(5):271–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Mann L, Tolbert V, Cushman J (2002) Potential environmental effects of corn (Zea mays L.) stover removal with emphasis on soil organic matter and erosion. Agric Ecosyst Environ 89(3):149–166. doi: 10.1016/S0167-8809(01)00166-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Wilhelm WW, Johnson JMF, Hatfield JL, Voorhees WB, Linden DR (2004) Crop and soil productivity response to corn residue removal: a literature review. Agron J 96(1):1–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Graham RL, Nelson R, Sheehan J, Perlack RD, Wright LL (2007) Current and potential corn stover supplies. Agron J 99:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Blanco-Canqui H, Lal R (2007) Soil and crop response to harvesting corn residues for biofuel production. Geoderma 141(3):355–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kenney I, Blanco-Canqui H, Presley DR, Rice CW, Janssen K, Olson B (2015) Soil and crop response to stover removal from rainfed and irrigated corn. GCB Bioenergy 7(2):219–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Wilhelm W, Doran J, Power JF (1986) Corn and soybean yield response to crop residue management under no-tillage production systems. Agron J 78(1):184–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Sindelar AJ, Coulter JA, Lamb JA, Vetsch JA (2013) Agronomic responses of continuous corn to stover, tillage, and nitrogen management. Agron J 105 (6). doi:10.2134/agronj2013.0181Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Pittelkow CM, Liang X, Linquist BA, Van Groenigen KJ, Lee J, Lundy ME, van Gestel N, Six J, Venterea RT, van Kessel C (2015) Productivity limits and potentials of the principles of conservation agriculture. Nature 517(7534):365–368CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Hill J, Nelson E, Tilman D, Polasky S, Tiffany D (2006) Environmental, economic, and energetic costs and benefits of biodiesel and ethanol biofuels. Proc Natl Acad Sci 103(30):11206–11210. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0604600103 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Anderson-Teixeira KJ, Davis SC, Masters MD, Delucia EH (2009) Changes in soil organic carbon under biofuel crops. GCB Bioenergy 1(1):75–96. doi: 10.1111/j.1757-1707.2008.01001.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Liska AJ, Yang H, Milner M, Goddard S, Blanco-Canqui H, Pelton MP, Fang XX, Zhu H, Suyker AE (2014) Biofuels from crop residue can reduce soil carbon and increase CO2 emissions. Nature Clim Change 4(5):398–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Adler PR, Del Grosso SJ, Parton WJ (2007) Life cycle assessment of net greenhouse-gas flux for bioenergy cropping systems. Ecol Appl 17:675–691CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Jin VL, Baker JM, Johnson JM-F, Karlen DL, Lehman RM, Osborne SL, Sauer TJ, Stott DE, Varvel GE, Venterea RT (2014) Soil greenhouse gas emissions in response to corn stover removal and tillage management across the US corn belt. BioEnergy Res 7(2):517–527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Hammerbeck AL, Stetson SJ, Osborne SL, Schumacher TE, Pikul JL (2012) Corn residue removal impact on soil aggregates in a no-till corn/soybean rotation. Soil Sci Soc Am J 76(4):1390–1398. doi: 10.2136/sssaj2011.0421 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Stetson SJ, Osborne SL, Schumacher TE, Eynard A, Chilom G, Rice J, Nichols KA, Pikul JL (2012) Corn residue removal impact on topsoil organic carbon in a corn–soybean rotation. Soil Sci Soc Am J 76(4):1399–1406. doi: 10.2136/sssaj2011.0420 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Hutchinson GL, Mosier AR (1981) Improved soil cover method for field measurements of nitrous oxide fluxes. Soil Sci Soc Am J 45:311–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Parkin TB, Venterea RT (2010) Chamber-based trace gas flux measurements, 3.1-3.39. Available at: www.ars.usda.gov/research/GRACEnet. www.ars.usda.gov/research/GRACEnet. Accessed 08/21/12 2012
  26. 26.
    Moebius-Clune BN, Van Es HM, Idowu OJ, Schindelbeck RR, Moebius-Clune DJ, Wolfe DW, Abawi GS, Thies JE, Gugino BK, Lucey R (2008) Long-term effects of harvesting maize stover and tillage on soil quality. Soil Sci Soc Am J 72(4):960–969CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Johnson JM-F, Archer D, Barbour N (2010) Greenhouse gas emissions from contrasting management scenarios in the northern corn belt. Soil Sci Soc Am J 74:396–406CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Hernandez-Ramirez G, Brouder SM, Smith DR, Van Scoyoc GE (2009) Greenhouse gas fluxes in an eastern corn belt soil: weather, nitrogen source, and rotation. J Environ Qual 38(3):841–854. doi: 10.2134/jeq2007.0565 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    IPCC (2007) Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, 2007. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United KingdomGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Chapple WP (2014) Effects of replacing corn in beef feedlot diets with chemically or thermochemically treated corn stover and distillers grains on growth performance, carcass characteristics, and ruminal metabolism. University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Wegner B, Osborne SL, Kumar S, Schumacher TE (2015) Soil response to corn residue removal and cover crops in eastern South Dakota. Soil Sci Soc Am J 79:1179–1187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Adler PR, Mitchell JG, Pourhashem G, Spatari S, Del Grosso SJ, Parton WJ (2015) Integrating biorefinery and farm biogeochemical cycles offsets fossil energy and mitigates soil carbon losses. Ecol Appl 25(4):1142–1156. doi: 10.1890/13-1694.1 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Delgado JA, Del Grosso SJ, Ogle SM (2010) 15N isotopic crop residue cycling studies and modeling suggest that IPCC methodologies to assess residue contributions to N2O-N emissions should be reevaluated. Nutr Cycl Agroeco 86(3):383–390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Decock C (2014) Mitigating nitrous oxide emissions from corn cropping systems in the midwestern US: potential and data gaps. Environ Sci Technol 48(8):4247–4256CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Lehman RM, Osborne SL (2013) Greenhouse gas fluxes from no-till rotated corn in the upper midwest. Agric Ecosyst Environ 170:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Reeves S, Wang W (2015) Optimum sampling time and frequency for measuring N2O emissions from a rain-fed cereal cropping system. Sci Total Environ 530–531:219–226. doi:http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.05.117
  37. 37.
    Venterea RT (2013) Theoretical comparison of advanced methods for calculating nitrous oxide fluxes using non-steady state chambers. Soil Sci Soc Am J 77 (3). doi:10.2136/sssaj2013.01.0010Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Bavin TK, Griffis TJ, Baker JM, Venterea RT (2009) Impact of reduced tillage and cover cropping on the greenhouse gas budget of a maize/soybean rotation ecosystem. Agric Ecosyst Environ 134:234–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Venterea RT, Burger M, Spokas KA (2005) Nitrogen oxide and methane emissions under varying tillage and fertilizer management. J Environ Qual 34:1467–1477CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Robertson GP, Paul EA, Harwood RR (2000) Greenhouse gases in intensive agriculture: contributions of individual gases to the radiative forcing of the atmosphere. Science 289:1922–1925CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Liebig MA, Tanaka DL, Gross JR (2010) Fallow effects on soil carbon and greenhouse gas flux in central North Dakota. Soil Sci Soc Am J 74:358–365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Venterea RT, Maharjan B, Dolan MS (2011) Fertilizer source and tillage effects on yield-scaled nitrous oxide emissions in a corn cropping system. J Environ Qual 40:1521–1531CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Kochsiek AE, Knops JMH (2012) Maize cellulosic biofuels: soil carbon loss can be a hidden cost of residue removal. GCB Bioenergy 4(2):229–233. doi: 10.1111/j.1757-1707.2011.01123.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.USDA-ARS-North Central Agricultural Research LaboratoryBrookingsUSA

Personalised recommendations