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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

2012 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:
Experiments are planned to evaluate cultural practices to improve cold tolerance of energycane 'Ho 02-113' as well as date of harvest impacts on biomass yield, sugar yield, and fiber quality of ten sugarcane varieties. Seed cane was planted at Spanish Trail near the Ardoyne Farm in Schriever, LA, in August 2011. A single row cultivator, opener, and packer was built during winter 2011/2012 to facilitate experiments on 6-foot row spacing. In June 2012 rows were drawn in marginal lands of northern Louisiana with new equipment with planting scheduled for July 2012. Data indicate the soils exhibit low soil fertility, and are in areas subject to drought. Year 1 experimental treatments will include three depths of soil cover at planting to improve tolerance to freezing temperatures common to northern Louisiana. Year 2 treatments will include residue management to improve overwintering of stubble crops. Monitoring activities are generally done by e-mail exchanges, verbal communication, and outreach programs between the SRU’s Authorized Departmental Officer’s Representative (ADODR) and the Sponsor’s Designated Representative.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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