Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sweet Potato Out-Yields Corn In Ethanol Production Study

Date:
August 28, 2008
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
In experiments, sweet potatoes grown in Maryland and Alabama yielded two to three times as much carbohydrate for fuel ethanol production as field corn grown in those states, scientists report. The same was true of tropical cassava in Alabama.

Sweet potatoes can yield two to three times as much fuel ethanol as field corn, approaching the amount that sugarcane can produce.
Credit: Photo courtesy of the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission

In experiments, sweet potatoes grown in Maryland and Alabama yielded two to three times as much carbohydrate for fuel ethanol production as field corn grown in those states, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists report. The same was true of tropical cassava in Alabama.

The sweet potato carbohydrate yields approached the lower limits of those produced by sugarcane, the highest-yielding ethanol crop. Another advantage for sweet potatoes and cassava is that they require much less fertilizer and pesticide than corn.

Lew Ziska, a plant physiologist at the ARS Crop Systems and Global Change Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., and colleagues at Beltsville and at the ARS National Soil Dynamics Laboratory in Auburn, Ala., performed the study. The research is unique in comparing the root crops to corn, and in growing all three crops simultaneously in two different regions of the country.

The tests of corn, cassava and sweet potato were in the field at Beltsville, and in large soil bins at Auburn.

For the sweet potatoes, carbohydrate production was 4.2 tons an acre in Alabama and 5.7 tons an acre in Maryland. Carbohydrate production for cassava in Alabama was 4.4 tons an acre, compared to 1.2 tons an acre in Maryland. For corn, carbohydrate production was 1.5 tons an acre in Alabama and 2.5 tons an acre in Maryland.

The disadvantages to cassava and sweet potato are higher start-up costs, particularly because of increased labor at planting and harvesting times. If economical harvesting and processing techniques could be developed, the data suggests that sweet potato in Maryland and sweet potato and cassava in Alabama have greater potential than corn as ethanol sources.

Further studies are needed to get data on inputs of fertilizer, water, pesticides and estimates of energy efficiency. Overall, the data indicate it would be worthwhile to start pilot programs to study growing cassava and sweet potato for ethanol, especially on marginal lands.

The additional research could help develop new biofuel sources without diverting field corn supplies from food and feed use to fuel.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Sweet Potato Out-Yields Corn In Ethanol Production Study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080825200752.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2008, August 28). Sweet Potato Out-Yields Corn In Ethanol Production Study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080825200752.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Sweet Potato Out-Yields Corn In Ethanol Production Study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080825200752.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — According to a new study, spiders that live in cities are bigger, fatter and multiply faster. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) — South Koreans eat more instant ramen noodles per capita than anywhere else in the world. But American researchers say eating too much may increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers

California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) — California's record drought is hurting honey supplies and raising prices for consumers. The lack of rainfall means fewer crops and wildflowers that provide the nectar bees need to make honey. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
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