Feeding the Advanced Biorefinery: Corn Stover

Sustainable Corn Stover Collection for Cellulosic Ethanol Production

DuPont is collaborating with corn growers to establish a high-quality, cost-effective and sustainable supply of corn stover for commercial production of cellulosic ethanol.

Corn stover—cobs, leaves and stalks of corn plants that remain after harvest—is the most plentiful source of lignocellulosic biomass in the United States. Corn stover is abundant, has high-energy value and is not used directly for human consumption, making it an attractive feedstock for biorefineries.

Sustainable corn stover harvest requires that only a portion is removed from the field, leaving behind a sufficient amount to support erosion control, soil organic matter and soil fertility.

Since 2010, DuPont has collaborated with more than 100 central Iowa corn producers, harvest service experts and equipment manufacturers to find the best ways to collect, transport and store corn stover.

Higher corn yields have resulted in a higher level of residue, which can pose a challenge for growers. Excess residue harbors disease, interferes with planting, impedes stand establishment and monopolizes nitrogen. Removing a portion of corn stover from high-productivity fields before planting can improve establishment, growth and yield.

On-farm research in Iowa showed an additional 5.2 bushels per acre on average for fields replanted to corn after partial stover harvest the preceding fall. Long-term field trials have been initiated to further verify and monitor the results of this program.

Corn Stover Harvest Program

DuPont is currently contracting with growers within a 30-mile radius of Nevada, Iowa to harvest, store and deliver corn stover to the DuPont biorefinery. Visit the Corn Stover Harvest Program for more information.