While the food vs. fuel debate rages on, I think most of us can agree that using corn crop residue to produce bioenergy is a pretty palatable option.

This tasty target is the subject of a new powerhouse partnership between Big Ag aces Monsanto (NYSE:MON), Deere (NYSE:DE), and Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM). The trio's objective is to figure out the best way to harvest, store, and transport corn stover -- the stalks and leaves left in the field after harvest.

When I saw the press release issued by ADM -- the biggest bioenergy bull of the lot -- my first thought was that Monsanto would be crafting some enzyme that would pave a path for the trio toward cellulosic ethanol production. But Monsanto does seeds, not superbugs. No, the MonDeLand monster just needs to get the biomass from the field to the facility. Someone else can figure out how best to gasify or ferment it.

Compared to some bioenergy initiatives, this is a seemingly modest undertaking. Folks like DuPont (NYSE:DD), BP (NYSE:BP), and General Motors (NYSE:GM) have each launched joint ventures seeking to commercialize next-generation ethanol technologies. Ethanol leader Poet LLC is also moving quickly toward corn cob-ethanol pilot production.

The corn-waste approach is actually quite appealing. I don't know who will become the cellulosic champ, but insofar as so-called corn stover proves to be a viable next-generation feedstock, the trio will take a cut of the action.

Among the three companies involved, investors in our Motley Fool CAPS community favor Deere the most, awarding the agricultural equipment leader a top five-star ranking. Think Deere will continue to plow profits back to its shareholders? Go ahead and rate the company outperform right here.

Fool contributor Toby Shute is (hyper-)active in CAPS under the name TMFSmashy. He doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a corn-fed disclosure policy.