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Projection of corn production and stover-harvesting impacts on soil organic carbon dynamics in the U.S. Temperate Prairies

June 17, 2015

Terrestrial carbon sequestration potential is widely considered as a realistic option for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. However, this potential may be threatened by global changes including climate, land use, and management changes such as increased corn stover harvesting for rising production of cellulosic biofuel. Therefore, it is critical to investigate the dynamics of soil organic carbon (SOC) at regional or global scale. This study simulated the corn production and spatiotemporal changes of SOC in the U.S. Temperate Prairies, which covers over one-third of the U.S. corn acreage, using a biogeochemical model with multiple climate and land-use change projections. The corn production (either grain yield or stover biomass) could reach 88.7–104.7 TgC as of 2050, 70–101% increase when compared to the base year of 2010. A removal of 50% stover at the regional scale could be a reasonable cap in view of maintaining SOC content and soil fertility especially in the beginning years. The projected SOC dynamics indicated that the average carbon sequestration potential across the entire region may vary from 12.7 to 19.6 g C/m2/yr (i.e., 6.6–10.2 g TgC/yr). This study not only helps understand SOC dynamics but also provides decision support for sustainable biofuel development.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2015
Title Projection of corn production and stover-harvesting impacts on soil organic carbon dynamics in the U.S. Temperate Prairies
DOI 10.1038/srep10830
Authors Yiping Wu, Shuguang Liu, Claudia J. Young, Devendra Dahal, Terry L. Sohl, Brian Davis
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Scientific Reports
Series Number
Index ID 70188062
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center