Mapping sustainable future with corn and ethanol

Mapping sustainable future with corn and ethanol
People interested in learning more about the demand of corn and ethanol production on soil sustainability did so with experts on Jan. 9 for a morning conference in Room A of the Rotunda Arts and Science Building on the SDSU campus. The free public gathering began at 8 a.m.

The conference, "Corn and Ethanol Production: Mapping a Path to a Sustainable Future," brought together state and national experts to talk about existing conditions, research, and forecast for future practices.

Lisa Richardson, executive director of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council, opened the session by outlining the mission for the morning, followed by a presentation from a farmer's view by Ron Alverson, farmer and treasurer of the Lake Area Corn Processors in Wentworth. Brian Woldt, president of the Corn Utilization Council, shared his perspective of the economics of ethanol production from corn grain and stover in South Dakota.

VeraSun Energy's Vice President of Technology Matt Janes summarized the current state of technology for converting cellulosic biomass to ethanol and other products. His presentation was followed by Susan Andrews, soil quality team leader and ecologist with the USDA National Tech Support Center in Greensboro, NC, who talked about the developing interest in using crop residue for biofuel production.

Soil scientists Thomas Schumacher and Doug Malo presented research findings about the importance of soil carbon to maintain soil function and productivity. Their presentation was followed by Gregg Carlson, SDSU interim department head for plant science and soil scientist, who talked about the economics of producing ethanol from grain and cellulose sources.

Afterward, national research agronomist Dan Long with the USDA in Adams, OR, took a look at the feasibility of using wheat straw from more arid western regions to produce ethanol, syngas or various chemicals.

The conference concluded with David Clay, SDSU soil scientist, discussing the relationships between soil yield potential, organic matter and rotational sequences to maintain long-term yield.

Sponsors of the information-packed meeting included South Dakota State University, the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council, the South Dakota Corn Growers Association, the South Dakota Soybean Association and the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council. For more information on the happenings of this past event, contact Cheryl Reese at (605) 688-6309 or Cheryl.

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