Bioenergy yields of several cropping systems in the U.S. corn belt

Emerson D. Nafziger, María B. Villamil, Jason Niekamp, Frederick W. Iutzi, Vince M. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While it seems likely that a crop production system designed for bioenergy production would differ from one designed for production of grain, there has been little research to validate this. In a study conducted over 2 yr at two Illinois sites, we found that full-season corn (Zea mays L.) both yielded more grain and produced a larger amount of biomass energy (GJ ha–1) than other systems, though the systems in which rye (Secale cereale L.) or wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) harvested as forage or field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.) harvested as seed followed by double-cropped corn did not yield significantly less energy; these four corn-based systems produced an average of 351 GJ ha–1 of biomass energy. Winter wheat or rye harvested as forage followed by double-cropped soybean [Glycine max(L.) Merr.] produced 35% less energy that did the corn-based systems, and systems in which wheat was harvested as grain followed by double-cropped soybean produced 38% less energy than the corn-based systems. Systems with canola (Brassica napus L.) or field pennycress harvested for seed followed by double-cropped soybean and full-season soybean produced an average of only 198 GJ ha–1 or 44% less energy than the corn-based systems. Despite the higher energy content of oil-rich seeds such as canola and pennycress, higher biomass production by corn-based systems leads to higher energy yields, despite the lower energy content of this biomass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-565
Number of pages7
JournalAgronomy Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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