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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, Insightful) by Yaa101 on Friday December 15 2017, @09:16AM (8 children)

    by Yaa101 (4091) on Friday December 15 2017, @09:16AM (#610204)

    So we are going to exhaust topsoil for a little fuel? very smart...

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  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15 2017, @10:17AM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15 2017, @10:17AM (#610223)

    I can tell you for a fact that unless you want added fertilizer/minerals for it to improve yield, you can literally grow sorghum or sugarcane in a bucket of water with sufficient sunlight, tropical heat (70-85 degrees or so, above or below and it tends to grow slowly/hibernate, too much above or below, or low humidity and it dies off.)

    Having said that, I got an excellent yield of sorghum grain this year and still have canes out in the field, but the sugarcane didn't grow much this year, unlike last. I had maybe 2 foot tall stalks this year after a full season, whereas the previous year I had ~6 foot stalks after the first 3 months, and 7-8 foot by the end of the year (they got rootbound which inhibited their growth later in the season.)

    Get water and even the most barren soil you can find and you will have no problem growing either sorghum or sugarcane so long as they stay warm and recieve sunlight they will grow indefinitely. As an added bonus, they made thick mats of roots, similiar to other grasses and will help prevent erosion of the topsoil. Or in the case of overly saturated soils, they will hold it together sturdily enough for you to pick it up for as long as the plants remain alive and for up to 6months to a year after that. Beyond that point the roots rot out and the soil will fall apart.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by requerdanos on Friday December 15 2017, @03:13PM (6 children)

      by requerdanos (5997) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 15 2017, @03:13PM (#610308) Journal

      you can literally grow sorghum or sugarcane in a bucket of water with sufficient sunlight, tropical heat

      I'd be curious what the sorghum or sugarcane would then be literally made out of, given that it could not in that event be taking minerals, compounds, nor elements from "the soil" (there being none). Water is hydrogen, oxygen, trace random "other". Where's the carbon coming from? The nitrogen?

      I am not saying you are wrong--I quite believe you--I am just curious.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15 2017, @04:12PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15 2017, @04:12PM (#610330)

        There is plenty of carbon and nitrogen in the air...
        Most plants need the nitrogen from the ground (don't know about this one), but some can pick it out of the air, and the carbon (almost?) always primarily comes out of the air.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by HiThere on Friday December 15 2017, @05:54PM (3 children)

        by HiThere (866) on Friday December 15 2017, @05:54PM (#610375) Journal

        The big three for plants (and other life) are C H O & N. Unfortunately, Nitrogen can't be absorbed from the air by multicellular plants, though some have made a deal with bacteria (see legumes). Even more unfortunately, there are lots of trace minerals that are also needed, e.g. Phosphorous. But as so much water is highly polluted with fertilizers (see "dead zone") the needed stuff may already be present in the water you use. You need to test to make sure.

        As for "literally grow in a bucket of water" look up hydroponics. Also Water Lily (Nymphaea aquatica), algae, water-hyacinth. That's not a unreasonable claim, but most land plants need to get air to their roots or they drown, and I don't know about sorghum.

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        • (Score: 2) by requerdanos on Friday December 15 2017, @08:28PM (1 child)

          by requerdanos (5997) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 15 2017, @08:28PM (#610438) Journal

          The big three... are C H O & N.

          Is this the Spanish Inquisition?

          • (Score: 3, Funny) by Joe Desertrat on Friday December 15 2017, @10:58PM

            by Joe Desertrat (2454) on Friday December 15 2017, @10:58PM (#610528)

            Is this the Spanish Inquisition?

            I...can't...resist...
            NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!

        • (Score: 2, Informative) by Crash on Saturday December 16 2017, @04:11AM

          by Crash (1335) on Saturday December 16 2017, @04:11AM (#610611)

          I've noticed that with my (mostly) succulent garden outdoors:
          The various plants will root and grow just fine in a wide stainless steel bowl of water and tree leaves, whereas
          They rot and die in planters that contained wet dense soil, and
          Mostly rotted with limited rooting in hourglass-shaped glass vases filled with water.

          Indoors in the windowsill, the same plants are able to root in cylindrical glasses or cylindrical aluminum mugs.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15 2017, @09:43PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15 2017, @09:43PM (#610488)

        Where's the carbon coming from?

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photosynthesis [wikipedia.org]

        My kid learned this in 2nd grade...