Removing corncobs from harvested fields has no discernible impact on soil quality, according to the Department of Agriculture's Agroecosystem Management Research Unit in Lincoln, Neb., which studied sediment loss and runoff rates in fields where corn residue was either taken or retained. The finding suggests that corncobs could be collected for use in biofuel production without harming soil quality, said a researcher. Corncobs account for up to 20% of residue by weight, "which means that the average U.S. production of corn could provide 40 to 50 million tons of cobs for feedstock every year," he added.

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