IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Sustainability of Corn Stover Harvest for Biomass


  • Sesmero, Juan P.


Off-farm demand for crop residues is expected to grow as bioenergy policies become effective. Demand for residues will provide farmers with an additional source of revenue but it may also trigger losses in soil organic carbon and increases in fertilizer application. This study develops a dynamic economic model of stover harvest that permits conceptualization and quantification of these potential tradeoffs. We parameterize our model based on publicly available studies of soil biophysical relationships in the Corn Belt. Under these parameter values and 2010 corn and fertilizer prices harvesting stover is not economically convenient at prices below $53 per dry ton of stover. Results suggest that the rate of stover harvest may be quite sensitive and negatively linked to corn prices, which means that policies favoring the use of stover for biomass may be overridden by further increases in corn price. The negative link between stover harvest and corn prices, while somewhat counterintuitive, is driven by the fact that removal of stover reduces future grain yield (through reductions in soil organic carbon). Results also seem to indicate that, under plausible parameter values, profit maximizing farmers would increase stover supply in response to increases in stover price. However increases in supply are, according to our simulations, associated with (potentially significant) reductions in soil organic carbon (and hence carbon emissions as these are positively linked) and increases in nitrogen application (and potential runoffs). This result suggests that concerns about adverse environmental implications of harvesting stover may be justified, and more precise quantification of environmental tradeoffs should be pursued by future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Sesmero, Juan P., 2011. "Sustainability of Corn Stover Harvest for Biomass," 2011 Annual Meeting, July 24-26, 2011, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 103765, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea11:103765
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.103765

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    More about this item


    Environmental Economics and Policy; Farm Management; Land Economics/Use; Resource /Energy Economics and Policy;
    All these keywords.

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ags:aaea11:103765. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: AgEcon Search (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.