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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 70 No. 1, p. 266-278
    Received: May 2, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): blanco.16@osu.edu
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Corn Stover Impacts on Near-Surface Soil Properties of No-Till Corn in Ohio

  1. Humberto Blanco-Canqui *a,
  2. R. Lala,
  3. W. M. Postb,
  4. R. C. Izaurraldec and
  5. L. B. Owensd
  1. a Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, FAES/OARDC, School of Natural Resources, The Ohio State Univ., 2021 Coffey Rd., Columbus, OH 43210-1085
    b Environmental Sci. Div., Oak Ridge National Lab., Oak Ridge, TN 37831
    c Joint Global Change Research Institute, 8400 Baltimore Ave., Suite 201, College Park, MD 20740-2496
    d USDA-ARS, North Appalachian Experimental Watersheds, P.O. Box 488, Coshocton, OH 43812


Corn (Zea mays L.) stover is a primary biofuel feedstock and its expanded use could help reduce reliance on fossil fuels and net CO2 emissions. Excessive stover removal may, however, negatively impact near-surface soil properties within a short period after removal. We assessed changes in soil crust strength, bulk density (ρb), and water content over a 1-yr period following a systematic removal or addition of stover from three no-till soils under corn in Ohio. Soils from ongoing experiments at the North Appalachian Experimental Watershed (NAEW), Western Agricultural Experiment Station (WAES), and Northwestern Agricultural Experiment Station (NWAES) of Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) were studied. Six stover treatments of 0 (T0), 25 (T25), 50 (T50), 75 (T75), 100 (T100), and 200 (T200)% were imposed on 3 by 3 m plots corresponding to 0, 1.25, 2.50, 3.75, 5.00, and 10.00 Mg ha−1 of stover, respectively. Cone index (CI), shear strength (SHEAR), ρb, and volumetric water content (θv) were measured monthly from June through December 2004 and in May 2005. Effects of stover removal on increasing CI and SHEAR were soil-specific. Stover removal consistently increased ρb and decreased θv across soils (P < 0.01). Compared with the normal stover treatment (T100), doubling the amount of stover (T200) did not significantly affect soil properties except θv where, after 1 yr, T200 increased θv by 1.3 to 1.6 times compared with T100 across all sites (P < 0.05). After 1 yr, complete stover removal (T0) increased CI by 1.4 times and SHEAR by 1.3 times at NAEW compared with T100 and T75, but CI increases at other sites were nonsignificant. At NWAES, T0 increased SHEAR by 26% compared with T100 (P < 0.05). The T0 decreased θv by two to four times except in winter months and increased ρb by about 10% compared with T100 (P < 0.05). In a short-term test, stover removal resulted in increased soil crust strength and reduced soil water content.

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Copyright © 2006. Soil Science SocietySoil Science Society of America