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Soil nutrient budgets following projected corn stover harvest for biofuel production in the conterminous United States

March 31, 2015

Increasing demand for food and biofuel feedstocks may substantially affect soil nutrient budgets, especially in the United States where there is great potential for corn (Zea mays L) stover as a biofuel feedstock. This study was designed to evaluate impacts of projected stover harvest scenarios on budgets of soil nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) currently and in the future across the conterminous United States. The required and removed N, P, and K amounts under each scenario were estimated on the basis of both their average contents in grain and stover and from an empirical model. Our analyses indicate a small depletion of soil N (−4 ± 35 kg ha−1) and K (−6 ± 36 kg ha−1) and a moderate surplus of P (37 ± 21 kg ha−1) currently on the national average, but with a noticeable variation from state to state. After harvesting both grain and projected stover, the deficits of soil N, P, and K were estimated at 114–127, 26–27, and 36–53 kg ha−1 yr−1, respectively, in 2006–2010; 131–173, 29–32, and 41–96 kg ha−1 yr−1, respectively, in 2020; and 161–207, 35–39, and 51–111 kg ha−1 yr−1, respectively, in 2050. This study indicates that the harvestable stover amount derived from the minimum stover requirement for maintaining soil organic carbon level scenarios under current fertilization rates can be sustainable for soil nutrient supply and corn production at present, but the deficit of P and K at the national scale would become larger in the future.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2015
Title Soil nutrient budgets following projected corn stover harvest for biofuel production in the conterminous United States
DOI 10.1111/gcbb.12139
Authors Zhengxi Tan, Shuguang Liu
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title GCB Bioenergy
Series Number
Index ID 70157089
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center

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