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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Cell Wall Biology and Utilization Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #249794


Location: Cell Wall Biology and Utilization Research

Title: Alfalfa: Potential For New Feed and Biofuel - USDFRC Research Update

item Martin, Neal
item Jung, Hans Joachim

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/17/2010
Publication Date: 1/18/2010
Citation: Martin, N.P., Jung, H.G. Alfalfa: Potential For New Feed and Biofuel - USDFRC Research Update. In: Proceedings for the 2010 Western Alfalfa Seed Growers Winter Seed Conference, Las Vegas, NV, January 17-19, 2010. p. 105-111.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Alfalfa hay is a major crop supporting U.S ruminant livestock industry, particularly dairy. Several cellulosic feedstocks will be needed to meet current ethanol production goals. Alfalfa has considerable potential as a feedstock for production of ethanol and other industrial materials because of its high biomass production, perennial nature, ability to provide its own nitrogen fertilizer, and valuable co-products. Alfalfa stems are an excellent feedstock for cellulosic ethanol via fermentation or gasification. Fractionation processes can produce alfalfa leaf meal (ALM) with protein content comparable to protein in dried distiller’s grains. Adding high value products from either fraction of alfalfa from non livestock uses will add value to alfalfa biomass use for biofuel. When a biomass-type alfalfa is grown under a biomass management system with less dense seeding and only two harvests per year, compared with standard hay-type alfalfa production practices, total yield of alfalfa increases 42%, leaf protein yield is equal, and potential ethanol yield from stems doubles. Alfalfa grown in rotation with corn to produce biomass for ethanol production reduces nitrogen loss from leaching and denitrification of corn with minimal reduction in profitability of corn.