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Thirteen-year Stover Harvest and Tillage Effects on Corn Agroecosystem Sustainability in Iowa

This dataset includes soil health, crop biomass, and crop yield data for a 13-year corn stover harvest trial in central Iowa.

Following the release in 2005 of the Billion Ton Study assessment of biofuel sources, several soil health assessments associated with harvesting corn stover were initiated across ARS locations to help provide industry guidelines for sustainable stover harvest. This dataset is from a trial conducted by the National Laboratory for Agriculture and Environment from 2007-2021 at the Iowa State University Ag Engineering and Agronomy farm. Management factors evaluated in the trial included the following.

  1. Stover harvest rate at three levels: No, moderate (3.5 ± 1.1 Mg ha-1 yr-1), or high (5.0 ± 1.7 Mg ha-1 yr-1) stover harvest rates.
  2. No-till versus chisel-plow tillage. Originally, the 3 stover harvest rates were evaluated in a complete factorial design with tillage system. However, the no-till, no-harvest system performed poorly in continuous corn and was discontinued in 2012 due to lack of producer interest.
  3. Cropping sequence. In addition to evaluating continuous corn for all stover harvest rates and tillage systems, a corn-alfalfa rotation, and a corn-soybean-wheat rotation with winter cover crops were evaluated in a subset of the tillage and stover harvest rate treatments.
  4. One-time additions of biochar in 2013 at rates of either 9 Mg/ha or 30 Mg/ha were evaluated in a continuous corn cropping system.

The dataset includes:
1) Crop biomass and yields for all crop phases in every year.
2) Soil organic carbon, total carbon, total nitrogen, and pH to 120 cm depth in 2012, 2016, and 2017. Soil cores from 2005 (pre-study) were also sampled to 90 cm depth.
3) Soil chemistry sampled to 15 cm depth every 1-2 years from 2007 to 2017.
4) Soil strength and compaction was assessed to 60 cm depth in April 2021.

These data have been presented in several manuscripts, including Phillips et al. (in review), O'Brien et al. (2020), and Obrycki et al. (2018).

Release Date
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Area
POINT (-93.76448 42.017584)
Ag Data Commons
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Location
Boone, Iowa
Temporal Coverage
October 1, 2007 to May 1, 2021
Data Dictionary
Contact Name
O'Brien, Peter
Contact Email
Public Access Level
Program Code
005:040 - Department of Agriculture - National Research
Bureau Code
005:18 - Agricultural Research Service