Making ethanol without the need to waste food crops

A very interesting breakthrough. If commercialised, it may dramatically reduce the acreage occupied by grain crops grown for ethanol, and consequently enhance global food security.

maize EU

Watts Up With That?

From Stanford University

Stanford scientists discover a novel way to make ethanol without corn or other plants

Stanford University scientists have found a new, highly efficient way to produce liquid ethanol from carbon monoxide gas. This promising discovery could provide an eco-friendly alternative to conventional ethanol production from corn and other crops, say the scientists. Their results are published in the April 9 advanced online edition of the journal Nature.

“We have discovered the first metal catalyst that can produce appreciable amounts of ethanol from carbon monoxide at room temperature and pressure – a notoriously difficult electrochemical reaction,” said Matthew Kanan, an assistant professor of chemistry at Stanford and coauthor of the Nature study.

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Biosecurity associated with Potato Production

Our potato project utilises certified seed from Germany, which is free of fungal, viral and bacterial disease. Potato is susceptible to a wide range of diseases which can be transmitted in soil or on farm equipment. Many diseases common in tomatoes, eggplant and melons can also be transmitted to potatoes. To get superior yields and quality, and to keep chemical costs under control, we need tight control of infection entering the property.

Our field has only been used for cereal crops and pasture for the past 20 years, and there are no other potato or cucurbit growers neighbouring us. All equipment used for unloading/loading/carting seed, and all farm equipment used in the field such as tractors, ploughs, harrows, and crop planters, is disinfected by us prior to commencing work.  Given that we use rented equipment from farm service centres, which potentially service other growers of potato or cucurbits, we have to assume that all rented equipment poses a biosecurity threat and respond accordingly. A high-pressure wash to remove dirt is followed by a spray with Domestos to kill pathogens.

We are deadly serious about biosecurity, and hope that our prudence will be imitated by other farmers to protect their crops from profit-sapping infectious disease.

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Unloading Seed Potato

Bulk seed potato is often transported in 1.25 tonne bags. Unloading requires heavy equipment and plenty of willing labour. Our team, Albert, Levan and Davit have worked very hard to get the seed unloaded and secured in storage prior to planting.

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Irrigated Potato Trial in Sartichala, Kakheti Region

We are happy to announce that YFN Georgia is conducting potato variety trials on a 10 ha irrigated plot in Sartichala Village, Kakheti Region. Several varieties of seed potato are likely to be in the ground by the end of this week.

Irrigated Spud

We will be producing several varieties of potato from German breeders, specifically designed for the snackfood market. Our client is building a potato crisp factory in Georgia and wishes to evaluate potential preferred varieties before commencing production.

The trial will be carried out on a centre-pivot irrigated property. Centre pivots and lateral moves are widely used in potato production abroad, as they require very little labour to operate, have a service life in excess of 20 years, administer water with great precision, and mimic natural rainfall quite well (some sprinkler units and rainguns can cause plant damage at critical development phases).

Detailed soil analyses have already been conducted and a Precision Agriculture nutrition plan has already been developed. A mixture of in-row solid fertiliser and foliar spray, administered at very low cost through the pivot, will be used with plant tissue tests , conducted in our US partner lab, guiding application rates and frequency.

Modern crop care procedures are in place, including sterilisation of rented equipment with chlorine bleach, prophylactic insecticide and fungicide use, and regular strategic use of European crop care chemical throughout the season. We will be using insect traps to monitor insect populations and schedule pesticide application as needed. Daily crop scouting is part of our management regime throughout the season.

We will be placing two Sentek soil moisture probes on the site, with daily data retrieval by waterproof Solo handset and downloading of data into our Irrimax irrigation scheduling software. This will assist us to correctly schedule and administer water to the crop dependent on crop needs, to control water pumping costs, enhance yields and quality, and reduce unnecessary overwatering that may increase the risk of fungal disease.

 

 

We will post updates as the trial proceeds until its conclusion in September.

Irrigated Spud