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 September 19, 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 September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
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