Minnesota alfalfa producers prep rotation crop for ethanol production

| July 29, 2010

In Minnesota, the Minnesota Valley Alfalfa Producers farmers cooperative expect to start construction of a facility to grind alfalfa to make pellets suitable for an ethanol refinery.   This is based on a presentation by Hans Jung, a scientist with the Department of Agriculture’s Dairy Forage Research Center in St. Paul, during two day conference held in Johnston by the Pioneer Hi-Bred seed company.

In his presentation, Jung suggested that alfalfa could be used as rotation crop along with corn to fix nitrogen in the soil.  This would in lower fertilizer use, which would in turn lead to lower waterway pollution.  The particular alfalfa suggested is a “super-sized” varietal in which the leaves would be stripped off as cattle feed while the stems would be used for ethanol production.   A number of obstacles remain including affordibility, loss of soybean acreage for oil, convincing farmers to move from traditional corn and soybean crop rotation and finding funding to develop alfalfa as a feedstock for biofuel.

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