Iowa has been involved in finding new ways to move the bio-fuels industry forward, but even with new technology an old problem remains.
“Erosion, it’s a huge problem. Not just in Iowa, but in the Midwest,” says ISU Associate professor Mahdi Al-Kaisi.
Two new plants in Iowa are going up to use corn stover to make ethanol instead of kernels of corn. It serves as a way to not use food for fuel.
An Iowa State University researcher has been studying the use of corn stover, which is the corn stalks left on a field after harvest, and the down side is loss of cover to help protect from erosion and also loss of nutrients.
Experts are recommending some standards be used to keep some cover on the land.
“Minimum you could leave on the soil surface, to protect the soil quality, to protect the soil organic matter…and to protect against erosion, you can only remove about 25 %,” says Al-Kaisi.
Experts also say crop rotation would help the soil. Even adding a third crop to corn and soybeans would help add a variety nutrients.
Iowa State researchers have been meeting with industry groups to discuss how best to preserve the soil in light of corn stover removal.