Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ethanol Byproduct Shown To Improve Soil

Date:
October 11, 2004
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
In the first study of its kind, an Agricultural Research Service scientist has shown that the byproduct of ethanol fermentation from corn stover can increase the structural stability and organic matter content of soil, particularly of highly eroded soil.

Corn.
Credit: Photo by Doug Wilson

In the first study of its kind, an Agricultural Research Service scientist has shown that the byproduct of ethanol fermentation from corn stover can increase the structural stability and organic matter content of soil, particularly of highly eroded soil.

"Stover" refers to the plant parts remaining in the field after harvesting corn. The corn stover ethanol byproduct has three times the concentration of nitrogen as the original cornstalks. It consists of stalk parts too tough for digesting by alcohol fermentation microbes and has a compost-like consistency, according to Jane Johnson, a soil scientist with the ARS North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory in Morris, Minn.

Applying this byproduct to the land may partially offset the risks associated with harvesting crop biomass for conversion to biofuel. The main risks from harvesting the biomass are possibly increasing soil erosion, as well as depriving the soil of carbon and nutrients it might have derived from the biomass. Another consideration is the safety of applying the fermentation byproduct to farm fields.

In the lab, Johnson applied the byproduct to two types of soil, at three rates, up to the equivalent of six tons of stover an acre. Some of the soil was very rich in organic matter, while some was highly eroded and low in organic matter. Johnson also added chopped cornstalks to some of each soil type and left some untouched, for comparison.

To verify the safety of applying the byproduct of stover fermentation to farm fields, Johnson is growing crops in soil treated with the byproduct, for analysis. Preliminary results have shown no adverse effect to corn or soybeans grown in the presence of the byproduct.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) helped fund this study as part of a complete DOE life-cycle analysis of ethanol production from corn stover that includes comparing possible economical and environmentally sound uses for the byproduct. The work of Johnson and colleagues suggests one use may be as a soil treatment for eroded areas.

A paper on this study has been published in the Soil Science Society of America Journal.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Ethanol Byproduct Shown To Improve Soil." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 October 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041011075459.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2004, October 11). Ethanol Byproduct Shown To Improve Soil. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041011075459.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Ethanol Byproduct Shown To Improve Soil." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041011075459.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A U.S. doctor has tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus, as the worst-ever outbreak continues to grow. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The New York Times has officially endorsed the legalization of marijuana, but why now, and to what end? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins