As popularity increases in using corn cobs as a bioenergy feedstock, Fernández said removing only corn cobs may be a way to increase bioenergy feedstock production while minimizing the long-term effect of residue removal on soil productivity.

Corn cobs represent only 20 percent of the total residue produced in a corn field, he said. Corn cobs have the advantage of being more consistent than other parts of the crop residue in terms of density and moisture and can be collected in one operation during grain harvest. It’s also easier to store corn cobs because they are less susceptible to decomposition.