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Monday, October 16, 2006

Complete information resource for everything Ethanol

ethanol production

Ethanol production has grown dramatically in the last few years as the demand for this clean-air fuel has escalated. Ethanol has become a legitimate industry that is rapidly changing the face of rural America and helping the United States address serious environmental and energy challenges.

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New Uses for Distillers Dried Grains

New Uses for Distillers Dried Grains

May 14th, 2007

Distillers dried grains (DDGs), coproducts of converting corn into ethanol, are usually fed to livestock, but DDGs may soon be used to fight weeds and reduce herbicide. 


Plant physiologist Steve Vaughn and colleagues with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) are seeking to identify new, value-added uses for farm-based commodities like DDGs and help bring them to commercial fruition by developing novel processing technologies.


Vaughn’s work over the past few years has shown that applying DDGs to soil as a surface mulch can not only suppress weeds, but also bolster the growth of tomatoes and some turfgrasses.  In one study, for example, Roma tomatoes in DDG-treated plots yielded 226 pounds, compared to 149 pounds from untreated control plots.


Vaughn attributes some of the increase to nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients released by the DDG mulch as it decayed.


In another study, using various analytical methods, NCAUR collaborator Mark Berhow is seeking to identify, measure, and monitor the activity of the chemicals in the DDG mulch that may have kept chickweed, annual rye, and other weeds from germinating.  Rick Boydston, an ARS collaborator at Prosser, Wash., tested the mulch’s weed control in potted ornamentals, including roses. He observed that DDGs worked best when applied to the soil surface, because mixing them into the soil harmed both ornamentals and weeds alike.


On another front at Peoria, ARS chemist Rogers Harry O’Kuru is examining DDGs for phytosterols, lecithin and other substances with potential use as health-promoting food ingredients.


The team’s efforts to expand the market for DDGs are timely.  In the Midwest, ethanol producers generate 10 million tons of DDGs annually. Farmers buy most of it for about $80 per ton and feed it to cows and other ruminants, but the nation’s increasing production of ethanol may create a DDG surplus that exceeds the current demand, Vaughn notes.

Can Ethanol Byproducts Cause Polio in Cattle?

Can Ethanol Byproducts Cause Polio in Cattle?

May 1st, 2007

University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist Dona Funk says that the first thing you should think about when hearing of a cow or steer that went down is not mad cow disease; it’s polio.

Polio is rare in cattle but could become more common as more livestock producers feed cattle ethanol byproducts, which can have enough sulfur to cause polio in cattle.  Polio can be in an acute form that causes sudden death, or it can trigger staggering and blindness or cause animals to be down.

In addition to high sulfur, polio also can be caused by lead toxicity, salt toxicity, or thiamine deficiency.  The amount of sulfur and other chemicals in ethanol byproducts (dried distillers grain with solubles) varies among ethanol plants and among loads from the same plant.  Funk said farmers feeding ethanol byproducts to livestock should seek to have each load they get tested each month.  Most area farmers feed the byproduct in liquid form that is spread on hay bales in limited quantities, Funk said.

Most potential for polio could be in parts of Western Missouri that have elevated sulfur levels in the water.  Combine this with sulfur from another source and polio potential is increased, agreed Al Decker, Butler extension livestock specialist.
Although the National Research Council recommends that the maximum tolerable dietary concentration of sulfur in the ration on a dry matter basis should not exceed 0.4 %, Decker says that not all cattle getting that amount - or more - will develop clinical polio.  He cites research in South Dakota that indicate dietary sulfur levels of 0.7% or more of dry matter may cause polio in growing cattle.  Ruminant microbial populations - trace concentrations of ruminant pH - can impact sulfur production and absorption, he said.

USDA Long-Term Projections: Distillers Grains

USDA Long-Term Projections: Distillers Grains

February 20th, 2007

The growth of ethanol production and increased supply of distillers grains is resulting in different adjustments across U.S. livestock industries.


Higher prices will lower direct corn feed use, but distillers grains - a dry mill ethanol production co-product - can be used in livestock rations, particularly in diets of ruminants (distillers grains are less suitable in rations for monogastric animals). For each 56 lb. bushel of corn used for ethanol production, about 17.5 lbs of dried distillers grains are produced.


Distillers grains are used in livestock feed in a wet form or dried and used with lower moisture content. Wet distillers grains avoids costs of drying the product but involves increased per-unit handling costs. Wet distillers grains also must be used relatively quickly, thus limiting how far they can be transported.


Dried distillers grains incur costs of drying but facilitate the shipment of this coproduct over greater distances, including for exports. Whether used wet or dried, distillers grains used in livestock feed replace some direct corn use, as well as soybean meal in some animal rations. Based on assumptions regarding the use of distillers grains in the livestock sector, each bushel of corn used to produce ethanol results in a reduction of about a fifth of a bushel of corn feed use.

A Solution to More Ethanol, Less Corn

A Solution to More Ethanol, Less Corn

October 20th, 2006

More ethanol plants will be coming to Ohio and to other livestock regions around the U.S., livestock producers will have to deal with less corn will being available for feed while more ethanol byproducts will be available.  As the supply of ethanol co-products increases, how will that affect the price of the co-products?  John Lawrence, Iowa State University and director of the Iowa Beef Center, says, “There have been several examples of when co-product has been free for the hauling as new plants come on-line, dryers malfunction, or something is out of spec, but this is not a long run sustainable price. Economics suggests that as the supply of co-products out paces demand prices will be lower. What is the lower bound? It depends on alternative markets for the co-product. One alternative are other buyers including livestock production in other states and countries.”  The storage and long distant movement, Lawrence says, suggests that plants will have to dry the product, which at current natural gas prices is costly.  A second alternative Lawrence explains is the co-product’s value as fuel for the plant.  There is some price at which the plant is better off to burn DGS than sell it at too low of a price. Burning is likely to require additional investment into equipment and take time for plants to make that decision and get it installed.  In the long run, however, burning may set the lower price for DGS.  A third alternative is use the DGS on the ground as fertilizer.