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Determining corn residue utilization in the USA


Corn (Zea mays L.) residue provides a simple and economical practice to integrate crops and livestock.  Corn residue is used for grazing, livestock bedding, supplemental livestock feed, and a feedstock for cellulosic ethanol in the U.S.  However, limited information is available on how widespread corn residue utilization is practiced by U.S. producers. 

In an article recently published in Agricultural & Environmental Letters, researchers report results highlighting residue utilization from major corn-growing states. In 2010, USDA-ERS surveyed producers from 19 states on corn grain and residue management practices as part of the Agricultural Resource Management Survey. 

Cattle in corn field

Corn residue grazed or harvested was estimated at 12 million acres.  Approximately 10 million acres were grazed by 11.7 million livestock (primarily cattle) in 2010, with Nebraska accounting for 47% of the total grazed acres. Producers in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota utilized residue on >20% of total corn acres. Residue harvests predominantly occurred in the central and northern Corn Belt with an estimated 3.2 million tons of corn residue harvested and baled across the 19 states. This study highlights the economic importance of corn residue for livestock, particularly in the western Corn Belt.

Read the full open access paper here.