Corn Cobs Photo by John Hay

Corn cobs and husks have potential as biofuel feedstock   photo courtesy of John Hay

Crop Residues

Crop residues left in the field after grain harvest have a large potential as a bioenergy feedstock. As a byproduct of grain production these residues have been called waste, yet research has shown their nutrient, erosion, and soil carbon characteristics have value that must not be overlooked. Crop residues of interest for bioenergy include; corn stover, corn cobs, wheat straw, soybean straw, and rice hulls. 

Value of Crop Residues as a Biofuel

by John Hay Extension Educator. Presented 1/14/2010 at WJAG Farm Show, Norfolk, Nebraska
Crop residues have value in the form of nutrients, erosion control, water holding, and carbon. With companies in Nebraska and other Midwest states actively contracting for corn residues, grain farmers need to analyze if their system can handle residue harvest and if the monetary benefits are enough to outweigh the negatives of residue removal. Also current USDA programs which incentivize the delivery of stover to biofuel facilities.
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Harvesting Crop Residues, G1846

Issues of crop residue harvest, including nutrient removal and effects on erosion, soil quality, water loss, and yield are discussed in this NebGuide.
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Selling Stover May Cost You More Than you Get -Sept 2009

An area farmer told me that he recently received an offer to buy his corn residue for as much as $20 a ton or $60 an acre for a three-ton harvest. For a quarter section, he could receive $9600. At first glance, it looks like he could get paid for what appears to be waste material – crop residue, but let’s think about the value of that residue.
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Crop and Soil Productivity Response to Corn Residue Removal: A Literature Review

W.W. Wilhelm et. al. 2005 Agronomy Journal
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Crop Residue Values, How Much Can I Remove?

Robert Klein, Cropping Systems Specialist UNL 
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Residue No-Till and System Management

Paul Jasa, Extension Engineer, UNL Biosystems Engineering Department
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