Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (MSBiosyAgE)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture; Engineering

Department

Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Michael D. Montross

Abstract

Since the Dust Bowl, conservation agriculture has become a common practice globally. Because of the rising interest in the use of corn biomass as a feedstock for biofuel production, the effects of corn stover removal on soil erosion were explored. It was hypothesized that selective harvesting strategies would impact soil erosion differently across a variety of slopes. Soil erosion boxes were constructed, and a rainfall simulator with an intensity of 30 mm hr-1 for 46 min was used to create runoff from slopes of 1, 5, and 10% and three cover factor treatments (no removal and two simulated corn stover removal strategies). Due to research time constraints, simulated corn roots were constructed to emulate actual corn roots in all experiments. The corn stover harvest strategies change the distribution of cobs, husks, leaves, and stalks in field; these changes were represented as the cover factor treatments. Changing the type of plant material on the soil surface impacted the predicted soil erosion from the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE). Based on the results from this study, the effect of corn stover cover percentages had a significant impact on the predicted and observed soil loss.

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