A team of researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, led by Adam Liska, recently released a study that suggests using corn residue to produce renewable fuels generates more greenhouse gases than gasoline. American Farm Bureau has several concerns about the study. It concludes cellulosic biofuels relying on corn stover would produce 7 percent higher greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline due to carbon removal from the land. American Farm Bureau economist Matthew Erickson says there’s a tremendous disconnect in the study’s assumptions from real world stover to fuel practices.
“This study implied that all farmers would willingly, and consistently, remove 60 to 75 percent of the corn residue from their fields. And it didn’t take into consideration anything that a farmer conducts within their normal operation.”
Best practices recommended for residue removal are that no more than 40 to 50 percent of residue is removed for no-till systems, 20 to 30 percent for conservation tillage practices, and zero to 10 percent for conventional tillage. But Erickson says farmers removing stover from the field are only removing 10 to 25 percent.
“The high majority of farmers would be hesitant to take off the 60 to 75 percent of stover because they’re going to need this residue to put back onto the field to nourish and to replenish the soil for next year’s crop.”
Erickson says there are numerous other studies from reliable sources, such as USDA, that show how biofuels benefit the environment beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“One benefit from biofuels is it’s environmentally cleaner, and air emissions from vehicles using biofuels are cleaner than gasoline, which reduces smog.”