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Mich State ILU- feed vs fuel

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Anyone read of the Michigan State study on U.S. biofuel from cropland production feasibility study? Pretty much shot down ILU argument. The analysis was accessed on present day technology. Not per some theoretical GMO corn hybrid improvement or future breakthrough technology. Interestingly, they changed out some of the grain for cattle with cellulose feed treated per the AFEX or LPC process to make it more nutritious as feed.


Excerpts from posting on http://www.greencarcongress.com/2010/10/dale-20101008.html#more


More than 80% of total agricultural production in the United States is used to feed animals, not human beings directly; most animal feed is produced for cattle, which are “nutritionally versatile animals”, Dale et al. note. In their study, they analyzed only the 114 million ha of cropland used now to produce animal feed, corn ethanol, and exports. Cropland used for direct human consumption, forests, grassland pasture, and rangeland are not considered. Thus, they note, the analysis provides an example of what is technically feasible, not an upper limit on US biofuel production.


For the study, they considered two land-efficient animal feed technologies: ammonia fiber expansion (AFEX) pretreatment to produce highly digestible (by ruminants) cellulosic biomass and leaf protein concentrate (LPC) production.


Their analysis, published as an open access paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that while using less that 30% of total US cropland, pasture and range, up to


106 billion gallons of ethanol


can be produced annually without decreasing domestic food production or agricultural exports.


As noted, the technologies that provide most of the benefit to food and biofuel production are extensive double cropping and large scale production of diverse cellulosic crops appropriate to different regions of the country. These are not exotic, expensive, or high risk technologies. Considering their large benefits to energy security and climate security, extensive double cropping and production of diverse cellulosic crops deserve more study for widespread application in integrated biofuel and animal feeding systems than they have received to date.




Note: it appears the U.S. farmer has capability to meet all light vehicle transportation fuel needs. With current technology, and benefits of decreasing GHG emissions of country by 10%. While lots of work would need to be done, such as education/training to be accomplished it can be done while improving fertility of soil.


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some good points here...


farmers (including those feeding cattle/pork/dairy/poultry...) are very resourceful...


My family used to chop a lot of corn for silage to feed cattle... as corn prices when up, as did the value of the land... this was not cost effecient.  Chopping the corn was taking too much valuable corn out of production that could be sold for much needed money...


They went to baling stover after the harvest, and chopping this, to blend with wet distillers grains...  Sell the corn, use the stover, and add back the protein from after the ethanol conversion.  As the value of stover has increased, they've started baling soybean stover (which is like dried sticks) and blending this with corn stover...


Cattle aren't very picky, and will eat a very wide variety of feeds.

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I used to haul sunflower hulls from Crookston MN down here to the feedlots. They came from a place that processed for human consumption. Some of the meats were still in there since it was impossible to be perfect. The first load I hauled, I couldn't believe that cattle on feed would eat them but I kept going back to the same places.

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Leaf protein concentrate and grass juice.


Protein synthesis is one of the chief activities of the green part of the plant. Some forage crops produce leaf protein in large quantities of up to 5 tons per hectare - three to four times that of grain crops. The basic steps for the production of leaf protein concentrate (LPC) are grinding the plant and separating the juice by pressing. The protein is dissolved in the juice, after which it is coagulated, usually by heating, and then dried.

Dried LPC contains about 40% crude protein, of which about three quarters is true protein. The amino acid composition is remarkably constant regardless of the green fodder used. The biological value of leaf protein lies between that of soybean and that of milk. The product is green and presents no palatability problems when included in mixed feeds.


The recommended level of LPC in diets depends on both the raw material and the processing method; LPC from green cereal fodder, rye grass and marrow stem kale has been shown to cause fewer problems than that from lucerne. It seems possible to include LPC in the diets of poultry, pigs and calves at levels covering up to 30% of the protein allowances for these species. When using lucerne LPC, this level can under certain conditions create problems, in which case it is advisable to decrease the percentage of inclusion.

Liquid grass juice can be fed directly to pigs. The juice is readily extracted by mechanical pulping and squeezing on a belt press. The yield of juice is approximately 50% of the weight of the crop. The addition of sodium metabisulphite to the acidified juice at pH 4 permits long-term storage. Grass juice can replace three quarters of the soybean meal in pig rations.




The energy crops grow max tonnage per acre for ethanol processes.  A portion of this crop can be processed out to animal feed with low loss of ethanol production.  Also, the energy crops appear to grow with less needs of nitrogen and irrigation and some actually build soil fertility. So, by utilizing more of these crops for animal feed, the feeding of animals becomes more efficient per land mass. Not a direct replacement for corn feed, but per animal nutrition, a blended feed, that should overall improve  feed quality.


The ammonia process utilized for some cellulosic processing, AFEX, also boosts the cellulose value for feed.  A portion of the cellulose fuel stock may be diverted to animal feed mix.


So, were getting more complimentary technology to improve the symbiotic relationship of ethanol processing and agriculture. As we gain info, ethanol production appears to improve and stabilize agriculture and land use.


Consider the following for thought:


1. Grass juice extraction is regarded by health shops,  most valuable. Note the expensive wheat grass or barley grass juice is highly prized for good health.  About $1/shot glass.


2. Grass and leaf juice extraction byproduct could be processed with little harm to ethanol production, yet a valuable feed product.


3. While ruminants can digest cellulose products the ammonia AFEX process make the plant matter more valuable and more nutritious.


4. Health food shops and far east region of world highly prize fermented/cultured  foods such as keifer, sour cream, butter milk, yogurt, sauerkraut, kim chee, etc.. The micro biology organisms actually like a micro feedlot to produce very healthy product. So, distillery grain should be very healthy food. 


5. While double cropping is not new technology, it could be much more popular and with the addition of energy crops more flexible and potentially more land friendly.


So, the ethanol plant in the future may be the first stop with farm harvests whereupon the industrial processing will produce high value animal feed, ethanol, corn oil for energy or consumption, and produce corn germ. Thin stillage used by digester for bio-gas production.  The hard unprocessed content of cellulose to be utilized as boiler fuel or pelleted for bio-energy, (pellet stoves). DDG, LPC, and AFEX treated cellulose mixed with dehydrated digester fluid mixed for animal feed and pelleted.

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What Poet is doing with corn cob cellulose process appears to be a good move and fits well with starch ethanol processes. But, may the green leaves of the ear of corn be utilized best for LPC feed be a good move, also? Boosting feed grain output/quality.


It appears their cellulose process utilize digesters that produce fuel for hot air turbine producing electric in cogen with process steam heat, extremely efficient. This offsets energy needs, in addition, with the starch ethanol process. So, in effect the two process work together and more attractive than separate processes. If ethanol demand is flat the cob can be AFEX processed to more animal feed. Grain can be stored per market demand. A very valuable attribute.


The pellet production side of factory could be exploited for bio-fuel. Pellet stoves continue in popularity even more so in Europe. The process equipment similar. Hammers, dryers, conveyers, bagging, pellitizing mills, and shipping. If the equipment could be dual use, equipment utilization improves as direct costs. It would give the plant more production flexibility to adjust to fluxes in demand per seasons or market conditions. Grass, cobs, stalks, vines, all burn well within most pellet stoves if they have good ability to remove extra ash content. Pellet stove fuel suppliers talk of custom mixes of cellulose for better burns, such as low coal content. Wood and coal combinations have a good reputation for low emissions. Same with old tires and used oil. Of course the gold standard is hardwood, but SMW from the disposal dumps can be sorted to make fine pellet fuel. Synthetic material blends, cotton, wood, varnish, polyethylenes, if blended in low content work very well with low emissions and high heat. Paper, cardboard, leaves, bark all produce similar results as hardwood.   

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Utilizing some cellulosic ethanol feedstock at the processing plant would have an additional complexity of harvest time. Green leave juice requires green leaves. :)


Michigan has a free On-Farm Bio-Energy Bus Tour,  Nov 5th. One farmer Rasch has a setup for farm scale ethanol production. He struggled economically with dairy farm until utilizing some corn for ethanol to power his equipment and cars. WDG used for feed and waste water for fertilizer. Another stop, Fennville Scenic View Dairy with 2,400 head. Their running a $2 million investment in anaerobic digester, gen set, and scrubber equipment for pipeline quality natural gas production. Three year payback.

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