Nutrient removal when harvesting corn stover

Encyclopedia Article

By John Sawyer and Antonio Mallarino

13 Aug 2007 -

Increasing demand to use corn plant biomass for producing energy and other products has spurred interest in harvesting corn stover and specific plant components in addition to grain. The technology and infrastructure needed for effective use of total corn plant biomass in energy production is currently being investigated and its implementation at a large scale in the near future is a real possibility. Harvesting more biomass means increased carbon (C) and other nutrient removal from fields. What is the nutrient removal when different corn plant components are harvested?

Corn plant nutrient content

Most producers in Iowa are familiar with harvesting corn for grain and less familiar with other plant biomass removal. Those harvesting corn silage are aware of the increase in phosphorus (P) and especially potassium (K) removal, and fertilization guidelines consider this increase. For example, with corn silage based on a bushel grain equivalent, the pounds of P as P2O5 goes from 0.375 to 0.55 and the pounds of K as K2O goes from 0.30 to 1.25, respectively, for corn grain and corn silage (Table 1, taken from Iowa State University Extension publication PM 1688, A General Guide for Crop Nutrient and Limestone Recommendations in Iowa).

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The following article may also be of interest: "Carbon and nitrogen cycling with corn biomass harvest"

Iowa State University Agronomy Extension Corn Production