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posted by Fnord666 on Friday December 15 2017, @07:04AM   Printer-friendly
from the good-smelling-exhaust dept.

Feed your cattle, fuel your Mustang:

Sweet sorghum is not just for breakfast anymore. Although sorghum is a source for table syrup, scientists see a future in which we convert sorghum to biofuel, rather than relying on fossil fuel. That potential just grew as University of Florida researchers found three UF/IFAS-developed sorghum varieties could produce up to 1,000 gallons of ethanol per acre.

"Sweet sorghum has the potential to be an effective feedstock for ethanol production," said Wilfred Vermerris, a UF/IFAS professor of microbiology and cell science and a co-author on the study.

Ethanol produced from sweet sorghum can be used for auto and jet fuel, UF/IFAS researchers said.

UF/IFAS researchers picture big fuel potential from sorghum partly because it's so abundant. Sorghum is the fifth largest cereal crop in the world and the third largest in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2014, the U.S. was the largest producer of sorghum in the world.

UF/IFAS scientists like sorghum because it can be cultivated twice a year in Florida, requires little fertilizer, uses water efficiently and can be drought resistant, UF/IFAS research shows.

Combine this with terra preta to get more harvests per year and they might have something.


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  • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Friday December 15 2017, @07:44AM (5 children)

    by aristarchus (2645) on Friday December 15 2017, @07:44AM (#610178) Journal

    millennia

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15 2017, @08:10AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15 2017, @08:10AM (#610182)

    Brazil has been doing it for 40 plus years. The real question is: Can they harvest the sorghum for ethanol feedstock while ALSO harvesting it for grain, or not?

    Sorghum will grow back from rootstock if it is frozen or harvested, and can grow additional shoots either off the cane or rootstock after seeding.

    If the grain can be harvested while also providing cane sufficient to produce ethanol it could be quite lucrative. If instead it is an either or proposition, it is no better than the misuse of corn going on today.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15 2017, @08:16AM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15 2017, @08:16AM (#610186)

      Umm, sorghum is not a grain. It is like sugar cane, but it produces molasses.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15 2017, @10:28AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15 2017, @10:28AM (#610224)

        Hint for you: Sorghum GRAIN is the part most often used for feedstock.

        The sorghum syrup, fiber, and bagasse can be made from the cane of any variety, and if harvested early may lack grain, but all sorghum reaching maturity will produce grain. The quality and quantity of grain, cane fiber and syrup will vary depending on variety.

        If you want to know more, Wikipedia provides a far more comprehensive explanation of the nuances of sorghum, as well as a agriculture research papers on the subject which can be found with a bit of googling and some patience.

      • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Saturday December 16 2017, @01:55AM (1 child)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 16 2017, @01:55AM (#610588) Homepage Journal

        I should have known, but had to double check. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorghum#Cultivation_and_uses [wikipedia.org] I'm less sure than AC - does all sorghum produce USEFUL grain, or are the seeds of some varieties useless to man? Johnson grass, for example, is just a weed, as far as I know. If all sorghum varieties are like Johnson grass, they are difficult to eradicate from a field.

        Image of seeds from Johnson grass - other varieties will be similar - http://www.pottcounty.org/ImageRepository/Document?documentID=625 [pottcounty.org]

        One species, Sorghum bicolor,[10] native to Africa with many cultivated forms now,[11] is an important crop worldwide, used for food (as grain and in sorghum syrup or "sorghum molasses"), animal fodder, the production of alcoholic beverages, and biofuels. Most varieties are drought- and heat-tolerant, and are especially important in arid regions, where the grain is one of the staples for poor and rural people. These varieties form important components of pastures in many tropical regions. S. bicolor is an important food crop in Africa, Central America, and South Asia, and is the fifth-most important cereal crop grown in the world.[12]

        Some species of sorghum can contain levels of hydrogen cyanide, hordenine, and nitrates lethal to grazing animals in the early stages of the plants' growth. When stressed by drought or heat, plants can also contain toxic levels of cyanide and/or nitrates at later stages in growth.[13]

        Another Sorghum species, Johnson grass (S. halapense), is classified as an invasive species in the US by the Department of Agriculture.[14]

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