The leftover plant material — also called corn stover — is being bought by some energy companies. They turn it into pellets and sell it to coal-fired power plants.
Some companies will pay up to $20 a ton for long-term contracts. At an average of 3 tons per acre, a mere 100-acre field could yield a gross profit of $6,000.
But University of Nebraska-Lincoln farm experts say that residue is even more valuable to the farmer by adding nutrients and lending structure to the soil.
Experts say the nutrient value of corn residue ranges from $17 a ton to $46 a ton.
Without that residue, the farmer will have to add more fertilizer, raising input costs.