Navigation Links
Fueling ethanol production while protecting water quality
Date:4/1/2008

Grain-based ethanol production has increased dramatically in recent years as the cost and instability of oil has increased. New U.S. government policies require major increases in ethanol production. While future plans call for a viable cellulosic ethanol industry, expanded grain ethanol production will lead to further growth of corn acres in the near term, with unintended negative water quality impacts. Currently, U.S. grain-based ethanol production is concentrated in the Corn Belt; however, several large production plants are under construction or planned near population centers in the eastern U.S. An interdisciplinary group of scientists evaluated potential impacts of grain- and cellulose-based ethanol on nutrient and animal management as they relate to water quality impacts on U.S. inland and coastal waters, particularly the Northern Gulf of Mexico (Mississippi River Basin discharge). The results of their evaluation were published in the MarchApril issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality and were also considered in the U.S. EPA Scientific Advisory Boards 2007 Hypoxia Advisory Panels report.

The group of scientists recommended rigorous implementation of advanced conservation measures to minimize N and P losses from new or more intensively managed corn to partially offset nutrient loss increases. These measures include precision and variable rate applications of fertilizers, inter-seeding corn with cover crops, and inclusion of buffers or riparian filter strips. A viable perennial grass, wood, or waste-based cellulosic ethanol industry could provide water quality benefits and other ecosystem services. Regardless of feedstock, policy and scientific decisions must consider and address unintended consequences of biofuel production on the environment, particularly water quality, to avoid higher, future costs of remediation and ecosystem restoration.

Corn prices nearly doubled between 2005 (about $2.25 a bushel) and 2007 (about $4 per bushel; now about $5.00 per bushel) and there was a 15% increase in U.S. corn acres last year. The scientists projected that much of this increased acreage would come from land in soybeans (50%), the Conservation Reserve Program (25%), and hay and pastures (25%). Recent data indicate that much row crop conversion was from cotton as well as soybeans. This would not impact P loss estimates and could increase N loss. Even with recommended fertilizer and management, corn can be a greater source of N and P loss to water than soybeans, perennials, or hay crops. Most of the corn acreage increase occurred in the Mississippi River Basin, and in this basin, most N and P that leaves fields is delivered to the Gulf.

Dried distillers grains, a by-product of ethanol production, is being used in animal feeds, particularly for dairy and beef. Dried distillers grains contain high concentrations of P and may elevate manure P (and N) content, even when less than 20% of the animals diets. This may erode efforts to reduce ration and manure P and will make government feed management programs more expensive and less attractive to farmers. The use of wet distillers grains as feed near ethanol facilities avoids the cost of drying the distillers grains but requires co-location of animal operations, which will concentrate manure production, often far from grain production, making effective manure use as a fertilizer more difficult and expensive.

Cellulosic fuel stocks from perennials such as switchgrass and woody materials also have the potential to produce ethanol. While cellulosic feedstock production, storage, handling and conversion technology still limit production, a viable cellulosic ethanol industry could reduce dependence on grain and provide water quality and other environmental benefits (such as C sequestration and wildlife habitat). For example, switchgrass, a warm-season perennial prairie grass, produces large amounts of biomass for feedstock, loses very little N and P compared to corn, and stores C in its extensive root system.


'/>"/>

Contact: Sara Uttech
suttech@soils.org
608-268-4948
Soil Science Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. LSU professors work to improve efficiency of ethanol fuel
2. Increase in ethanol production from corn could significantly impact
3. Can plant-based ethanol save us from our fossil fuel addiction?
4. Trash today, ethanol tomorrow
5. US rush to produce corn-based ethanol will worsen dead zone in Gulf of Mexico: UBC study
6. Green tea boosts production of detox enzymes, rendering cancerous chemicals harmless
7. The 5 Ws of corn production
8. Low oxygen in coastal waters impairs fish reproduction
9. UCI and CODA Genomics collaborate to re-engineer yeast for biofuel production
10. Curbing C. difficiles toxin production
11. Neuronal conduction of excitation without action potentials based on ceramide production
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/22/2016)... , March 22, 2016 ... report "Electronic Sensors Market for Consumer Industry by Type ... Others), Application (Communication & IT, Entertainment, Home ... Global Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, ... expected to reach USD 26.76 Billion by ...
(Date:3/18/2016)... LONDON , March 18, 2016 ... Established Suppliers of Biometrics, ICT, Manned & Unmanned Vehicles, Physical ... & security companies in the border security market and ... and Europe has led ... your companies improved success. --> defence & ...
(Date:3/15/2016)... 2016 Yissum Research Development Company of ... of the Hebrew University, announced today the formation of ... of various human biological indicators. Neteera Technologies has completed ... private investors. ... of electromagnetic emissions from sweat ducts, enables reliable and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/4/2016)... ... May 05, 2016 , ... CereScan, ... the National Stroke Association during National Stroke Awareness Month in May. An ... pages throughout the month. CereScan will donate $1 up to a maximum ...
(Date:5/4/2016)... ... May 04, 2016 , ... The Children’s Tumor Foundation announced its annual month-long ... grow on nerves throughout the body. It affects 1 in 3,000 people of all ... during the month of May, as well as online activities, Neurofibromatosis Awareness Month and ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... PUNE, India , May 3, 2016 ... Type (DNA Chip (Genomics, Drug Discovery, Gene ... Chips), End user (Academics Institutes, Diagnostics Centers), ... 2020" published by MarketsandMarkets, the market is ... 2020 from USD 7.63 Billion in 2015, ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Flagship Biosciences, the leader in tissue ... of Directors. Dr. Gillett recently retired from Charles River Laboratories (CRL), where, in ... Officer. A board-certified veterinary pathologist, Dr. Gillett joined Charles River in 1999 through ...
Breaking Biology Technology: