5 Residue Harvesting for Biofuel
Concern over increase in the fuel and global warming
caused by the atmospheric CO2 abundance are
among important factors underpinning energy
entrepreneurs to develop alternative and renewable
fuel. Production of cellulosic ethanol based on
renewable biomass or crop residues is one such

While production of liquid biofuels from biomass is a plausible goal to reduce the excessive dependence on fossil fuels and decrease the net emissions of greenhouse gases.Several ethanol plants are envisaged and soil building crops such as legumes and other perennials are being replaced by corn as price of corn and cost of fuel increase. indiscriminate removal of crop residue for biofuel production. .

increase emissions of greenhouse gases. Removal of residues can: _ deteriorate soil properties. reduce microbial activity. and increase risks of non-point source pollution. air. alter soil water. accelerate soil erosion. reduce grain and biomass yield. and heat fluxes. . deplete plant nutrients.Retention of crop residue is important to soil erosion control and sus tained crop production (Lal. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ reduce soil organic matter concentration. 2006).

it might be possible to remove a portion of crop residues for energy production and other purposes without adversely affecting soil functions. crop yield. . Maximum collection rates of crop residue must be determined by soil type and ecoregion prior to undertaking large scale crop residue harvesting for ethanol production.6.5. soil erosion and water runoff under different tillage systems are soil specific. The impacts of crop residue removal on soil properties.1 Threshold Level of Residue Removal In some soils and ecosystems.

5). . 75. depending on the soil and ecosystem. • A study conducted on the residue management in Ohio • showed that changes in near-surface soil physical properties (e. soil • strength.2 Rapid Impacts of Residue Removal Changes in soil properties as a result of residue removal can be rapid.5.6. and water content) were immediate when 25. and western Ohio (Fig. northwestern. 6. 50.g.. crusting. and 100% of residue • cover from no-till continuous corn was removed from three contrasting but representative soils in northeastern.


and reduces soil organic matter content even within one-year since initiation of residue removal. exacerbates surface crusting and sealing. Crop residue removal for biofuel production is not a sustainable practice in most soils (Blanco-Canqui and Lal. increases soil compaction.excessive or complete residue removal reduces soil porosity. 2007) .

. biomass feedstock for biofuel production must be produced from dedicated or specific energy plantations established on nonprime agricultural soils (e. marginal croplands.6 Bioenergy Plantations as an Alternative to Crop Residue Removal Because excessive removal of crop residues exacerbates soil erosion and adversely affects soil properties. surplus land. minesoils.g.. degraded soils. wastelands).6.

growing warm season grasses as bioenergy crops may be particularlyimportant in soils and ecoregions where stover removal adversely impacts soil characteristics. Thus.Establishing bioenergy plantations is a viable alternative to removing crop residues from agricultural soils. Most importantly. establishing energy plantations on agriculturally marginal soils could be beneficial to reducing the competition for land. .

and biotechnological industries. and mitigating climate change. biomass producers. improving soil properties. . marginal croplands.Restoration of degraded soils. and mined soils by establishing bioenergy plantations is also an important strategy for producing bioenergy feedstock while reducing soil erosion. Developing renewable energy alternatives requires a coherent and integrated mission among energy industries.