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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: A Regional Program for Production of Multiple Agricultural Feedstocks and Processing to Biofuels and Biobased Chemicals

Location: Sugarcane Research Unit

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
The goal of this proposal is to expand the Southern Regional Agricultural Sector by utilizing sweet sorghum and energycane crops, capable of being produced in underutilized land, for the manufacturing of bio-based fuels and by-products. Formation of a regional multidisciplinary consortium of agricultural scientists, biotechnologists, technology and engineering providers, economists and educators will facilitate conversion of these regionally appropriate crops into a portfolio of bio-based fuels and chemicals. A training and demonstration facility will be expanded to support research, education and extension for the emerging biorefining industry. The structure of the proposed consortium focuses resources and all necessary expertise in one regional location that provides outreach through a well developed extension network. The team of agricultural economists will analyze and model the scenarios throughout the Southeastern region of the United States. Once created, this program will serve to advance biofuel production in the Southeastern Region.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
1. Evaluation of selected energycane and sweet sorghum crops and improvement in their production through utilization of low-input, sustainable systems to ensure an uninterrupted supply of carbohydrates and fiber to biofuel production facilities. 2. Utilization of existing pilot and industrial facilities, incorporating multiple crops and cutting edge processing technologies to demonstrate butanol, gasoline, and isoprene. 3. Regionally appropriate business-marketing models that integrate bio-based fuels and products into existing logistics and supply chain infrastructures will be developed based on inputs from agricultural research and techno-economic analyses. 4. Educational programs at the consortium universities will be expanded and coordinated to support a practical training center in biofuel processing linked to an extension/outreach program targeting supply chain participants.


3.Progress Report:

Energycane depth of cover test, energycane vs. sugarcane test, and nitrogen fertility tests were planted in July 2012. Stand counts were conducted in July 2013. Soil temperature was monitored throughout winter 2013. Yield data collection is scheduled for September 2013. Energycane date of harvest test was planted in Schriever, LA in August 2012. Monthly harvest will begin in August 2013. Date of harvest test replant will occur in August 2013.

Energycane clones were planted in April 2012 in Winnsboro, LA. Herbicide and cultivation was used to maintain the plots during the summer of 2012. First line trials were planted alongside the above energycane test plots in July 2012. Selections will be made in July – August 2013 and replanted in adjacent rows. Currently fallow rows are being kept weed free with Round up.

The experiments performed under this research project are designed to identify Saccharum varieties with improved adaptation to a temperate climate, a trait needed to improve sustainability and expand the geographic range of sugarcane and potential energy feedstocks.


Last Modified: 10/22/2014
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