Use of corn stover for industrial uses (renewable natural gas, cellulosic ethanol, and fiberboard), presents both opportunities and constraints, which must be considered as this supply chain develops. The amount of stover that can be safely harvested, stover harvest quality and storage, soil carbon and quality, erosion potential, nutrient removal and recycling, costs, and land lease issues should be considered when deciding to participate in the corn stover supply chain.
Examples of industrial users of corn stover include Verbio Biorefinery (previously DuPont Cellulosic Biofuel Solutions) in Nevada and Project Liberty in Emmetsburg. These are currently the two industrial plants in Iowa leading the production of renewable energy (natural gas and cellulosic ethanol) from corn stover. Use of corn stover for manufacturing of agri-fiber board has been done at a commercial scale in Dubuque, Iowa; but this business has closed its operations.
Producers deciding to participate in this industrial supply chain must evaluate the benefits and constraints of corn stover harvest on a field by field basis. PM 3050 - Industrial Corn Stover Harvest provides a comprehensive overview of the engineering, agronomic, and economics issues related to corn stover harvest.