Learn about harvesting and selling Iowa's newest crop, corn stover

Learn about harvesting and selling Iowa's newest crop, corn stover

ISU Extension will host four workshops March 18-29 to help farmers understand the opportunities and challenges of corn stover.

Corn stover – the cobs, leaves and stalks of corn plants left in the field after harvest – are being used in the production of ethanol, including the Iowa cellulosic ethanol facilities at Nevada in central Iowa and at Emmetsburg in northwest Iowa.

As these ethanol production plants start their operations, they present an opportunity for producers to participate in this newly developing corn stover supply chain. Stover removal, in either round or square bales, can impact agronomic decisions such as soil nutrient balance and soil quality, and can influence harvest logistics in terms of removal amounts and reduced tillage.

A GROWING MARKET: The harvesting, use and marketing of corn stover is an emerging commercial industry. It is developing from a basic farm operation that harvested stover strictly for on-farm use, to one where outside buyers are interested in purchasing stover.

To help producers understand the opportunities available and where they fit in the supply chain, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will host a series of four workshops to address the constraints and benefits of corn stover harvesting.

Workshops will be held on the following dates at these locations:

March 18 – Jefferson, 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., ISU Extension office in Greene County, 104 West Washington Street, Jefferson, Iowa. To register for this location call 515-386-2138.

March 22 – Algona, 9:30 a.m. to noon, Water’s Edge Nature Center, 1010 250th Street, Algona, Iowa. To register for this location call ISU Extension in Kossuth County at 515-295-2469.

March 23 – Spencer, 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., Clay County Regional Events Center, 800 West 18th Street, Spencer, Iowa. To register for this location call ISU Extension and Outreach Clay County at 712-262-2264.

March 29 – Marshalltown, 1:30-4 p.m., ISU Extension in Marshall County, 2608 South 2nd Street, Marshalltown, Iowa. To register for this location call 641-752-1551.

ISU Extension and Outreach field agronomists Mark Johnson and Paul Kassel, as well as ISU agricultural engineering specialist Kapil Arora, will host the workshops. Crop producers, landowners, crop consultants, agronomists, service providers and others with an interest in stover harvesting and its removal from farm fields are encouraged to attend. The events are free but pre-registration is required. Participants must register at least one day in advance. Early registration is recommended as workshop size is limited to 50 participants per site on a first-come basis. The workshops are sponsored by Iowa Farm Bureau in Clay, Green and Marshall counties.

“The harvest, use and marketing of corn stover, is an emerging commercial industry,” Arora notes. “It is developing from a stover harvesting operation that was strictly for on-farm use to one where there are outside buyers interested in purchasing corn stover. There is almost no infrastructure currently in place today to systematically harvest, store, transport, value or market large quantities of corn stover. This is expected to rapidly change and evolve as more corn stover industries begin operations.”

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