A Multi-Factor Analysis of Sustainable Agricultural Residue Removal Potential
Agricultural residues have significant potential as a near term source of cellulosic biomass for bioenergy production, but sustainable removal of agricultural residues requires consideration of the critical roles that residues play in the agronomic system. Previous work has developed an integrated model to evaluate sustainable agricultural residue removal potential considering soil erosion, soil organic carbon, greenhouse gas emission, and long-term yield impacts of residue removal practices. The integrated model couples the environmental process models WEPS, RUSLE2, SCI, and DAYCENT. This study uses the integrated model to investigate the impact of interval removal practices in Boone County, Iowa, US. Residue removal of 4.5 Mg/ha was performed annually, bi-annually, and tri-annually and were compared to no residue removal. The study is performed at the soil type scale using a national soil survey database assuming a continuous corn (Zea mays L.) rotation with reduced tillage. Results are aggregated across soil types to provide county level estimates of soil organic carbon changes and individual soil type soil organic matter content if interval residue removal were implemented. Results show interval residue removal is possible while improving soil organic matter. Implementation of interval removal practices provides greater increases in soil organic matter while still providing substantial residue for bioenergy production.