Monday, April 30, 2007

Storage changes of ensiled corn stover

Michael D. Montross1, Corey W. Radtke2, Dennis Hancock3, and Czarena L. Crofcheck1. (1) University of Kentucky, 128 Barnhart Building, Lexington, KY 40546, (2) Idaho National Laboratory, PO Box 1625, Idaho Falls, ID 83415-2203, (3) Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, University of Georgia, 3111 Miller Plant Sciences Building, Athens, GA 30602

Dry storage of corn stover in the Corn Belt will be difficult due to the high moisture content of the stover at grain harvest.  Samples were hand collected during 2005 from a field that was split into irrigated and rainfed sections and sealed in PVC containers.  The material had a considerable range in moisture content when placed into the containers.  This was due to the limited rainfall during 2005 and the average moisture content of the rainfed stover was 35% and the irrigated stover was 55%.  Samples were randomly chosen after 3 and 12 weeks and split into two sub-samples for analysis.  One sub-sample was dried and the other sub-sample frozen.  The dry matter loss from the irrigated portion of the field was higher (average of 3.8%) than the rainfed portion of the field (average of 1.3%).  Although the data indicated the irrigated section ensiled to a higher degree based on the pH. The average pH of the irrigated samples was 4.3 and the rainfed samples had a pH of 5.5.  Organic acid profiles of the frozen samples are yet to be determined.  During 2006 bales of stover from two varieties were collected and wrapped in plastic.  After 12 weeks the bales will be sampled and the organic acid profile measured.  The data will be useful for designing corn stover collection systems that will utilize high moisture content crop residues.