Pro Farmer Editors
Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), Deere & Company and Monsanto Company
have agreed to collaborate on research to explore technologies and processes
to turn crop residues into feed and bioenergy products.
The companies will work together to identify environmentally and economically
sustainable methods for the harvest, storage and transport of corn stover
-- the stalks, leaves and cobs of corn plants. Corn stover can be used in
feed for animals, as biomass to generate steam and electricity or as a cellulosic
feedstock for biofuel production. By creating feed and energy products from
crop byproducts, farmers can produce more products without farming more acres,
and increase the value derived from each acre.
Stover is usually left on the field, where, in proper amounts, it helps
reduce soil erosion and build up soil organic matter. A 170-bushel-per-acre
corn crop, which was the average last year in Iowa, also produces about four
dry tons of stover. The United States Department of Agriculture forecasts that
in 2008, farmers will harvest 12.3 billion bushels of corn, resulting in approximately
290 million tons of stover.
In their work, the companies will address a number of complexities and challenges.
For example, stover collection rates need to be adjusted on a field-by-field
basis to ensure that sufficient stover is left on the soil to reduce erosion
and maintain or improve soil quality for the next season's crop. Also, the
amount of moisture in the stover at harvest can present challenges in transportation
and storage. Monsanto, ADM and John Deere are committed to identifying processes
and technologies that will create an economically, agronomically and environmentally
sound value chain for corn stover.