University of Nebraska corn stover study slammed by USDA, ACORE, POET, and more

April 27, 2014 |

In Nebraska, renewable experts, the EPA, and the research community alike have disputed a recent University of Nebraska study which concluded that fuel produced from cellulosic ethanol from corn residue could result in 7% more greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline in the short term.

According to critics, the study was conducted under highly unrealistic conditions: a single, experimental field where 75-100% of the corn residue was removed from the land for nine years.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack echoed this criticism: “The study started with an assumption about the way corn stover would be removed from the land. The problem with the assumption is no farmer in the country would actually take that much crop residue,” he said. “When you start with a faulty assumption, you end up with a faulty conclusion.”

The original study is here.

A recent study performed at POET-DSM also provided a strong contrast in results.

The six- year project based at their Emmetsburg site, led by Dr. Douglas Karlen with USDA-ARS and Dr. Stuart Birrell with Iowa State University, has concluded that two tons of biomass can be safely removed from fields that yield high amounts— 180 bushels per acre or more. While POET-DSM is currently asking farmers to harvest only one ton per acre (about 25% of the available material), Dr. Karlen said that on high-yielding corn fields, the large quantity of biomass means that a portion can be removed safely while leaving enough material on the ground to protect the soil from wind and water erosion and replenish soil nutrients and organic matter.

More on the story.

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Category: Research

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