Monday, September 22, 2008

Versatile Sorghum Can Grow in 80% of World

Sorghum is not yet well known as an energy crop, but it is being situated as an important ethanol feedstock across parts of Texas and the US mid-southwest.
“Sorghum, by nature, is drought tolerant,” he said. “That provides a unique opportunity.” Studies in West Texas show sorghum can produce significant tonnage on relatively small amounts of water.

“It’s also adaptable. Sorghum bicolor (the most common sorghum) will grow in 80 percent of the world.”

He said the sorghum genome has recently been sequenced, “the second cereal to be sequenced. We now have tools available (for enhanced research).”

....Sorghum offers an opportunity to deliver tons of biomass on a limited amount of water. Sorghum can withstand conditions with either limited water or too much.”

Lust said a new generation of researchers and entrepreneurs offers potential for improved opportunities for sorghum as a renewable fuels crop. “Increased acreage worldwide is another advantage. Sorghum can be part of an international solution to renewable fuels.”

He said an advanced definition of biofuels in the energy bill “makes sorghum unique. It also leaves a small carbon and nitrogen footprint. We’re just learning about the compositional analysis of biomass.

“New sorghums have the potential to be some of the great biofuels crops,” he said. “Sweet sorghum could double the gallons per acre when combined with cellulosic or ligno-cellulosic ethanol.” That’s accomplished by using the sweet sorghum sugar extraction for ethanol and then using the biomass for cellulosic conversion. _Source
As scientists learn which biomass crops do best on what land, and in particular crop rotations, farmers will be able to produce much more biomass than at present--just at the time when producers will be gearing up to produce more cellulosic electricity and cellulosic biofuels.

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