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Ethanol: Impacts on Soil and Water Quality

Ethanol: Impacts on Soil and Water Quality

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Ethanol: Impacts on Soil and Water Quality

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  1. Ethanol: Impacts on Soil and Water Quality Bob Broz University of Missouri Extension Water Quality Program (573) 882-0085

  2. reduce need for commercial fertilizer Apply to Crop ground

  3. Ethanol Production and Land • As land managers we need to recognize the limits of the land and manage the land accordingly. Will marginal acres be put into corn production that over time will deplete the soil. • Is production of corn the driving factor or managing the land for economic and environmental security?

  4. Ethanol Production and land • May see an increase in corn acreage production • Marginal land that was in CRP may be put back into production • Doesn’t produce as well so we may see poor production so requires higher management to prevent nutrient runoff/leaching and pesticide loss. • Increased pesticide use • May see increase in nutrient loading

  5. Ethanol and Economics • The role of science and economics of production • There are some fields that do not turn a profit for corn. These fields should be used for other aspects of agricultural production, haylage, soybeans, pasture, etc.

  6. Ethanol and Economics • 20 Year Case Study – one field shows that it has only turned a profit once in ten years of corn production. Bean production has supported the field. • Producing rape that is sold as haylage and then full season beans. Builds up soil and reduces need for pesticide and fertilizer.

  7. Ethanol and Economics • Just looking at increased corn prices is not enough. (an increase from 3 to 5 cents per pound is estimated right now) • We need to look at the bottom line to see if the producer is better off • Are the practices being implemented sustainable for future generations on the farm • Look at the entire farming enterprise and see how corn production for ethanol is a component

  8. Ethanol and Economics • Presently 46% of the 105 ethanol plants are farmer owned. Farmers are reaping the benefits of cooperative owned plants and are learning to work more closely together and respond to questions about the environment. Corn prices have gone up so farmers are receiving the benefits from both sides of production.

  9. Ethanol and Livestock • To utilize the products from ethanol production we may see more diverse farms – with both livestock and crop. • Marginal land can be used for hay or pasture and fertilized with manure from the livestock. • Reduces need for commercial fertilizer and may reduce need for pesticides.

  10. Ethanol and Livestock Production • 1 gallon ethanol produces approximately 6-7 pounds of distiller grain. • High protein (23-30%) but may see variability in nutrient content due to corn and processing. • Mo. Produced 498,200 tons from 4 facilities in 2005, need approx. 3.1 million head eating 3 pounds per day

  11. Ethanol and Livestock • Inexpensive feed source more suited for ruminants • Could cause an increase in livestock numbers to utilize the feedstuff • May cause decrease in market due to over production • Need to determine how to dispose of manure being produced – back to the land • Should increase county revenue base from livestock sales in the area

  12. Ethanol and Livestock • Increased livestock numbers will • increase need for more water supply • Produce more manure • May have more potential for nutrient runoff • Provide stronger economic base for the area • May create more jobs • May cause counties to want to implement county ordinances to control livestock numbers.

  13. Ethanol and Water Quality and Quantity • If we have an increase in corn acreages we have potential for: • Soil Erosion • Farming marginal farmland • Increase pesticide use • Mo has over 100 surface water reservoirs • Atrazine has been identified in several in the past • Increase nitrogen use • More leaching and/or runoff potential • Nutrient loading • Algal bloom

  14. Ethanol and Water Quality and Quantity • One bushel of corn can produce 3 gallons of ethanol but requires 4-8 gallons of water/gallon of ethanol produced • 80 million gallons of ethanol may require approximately 400 million gallons of water (1.1 million gallons/day) • What other industries may be effected • Crop irrigation • Manufacturing • Will private or public wells be effected? • Not enough information known to know the severity or overall impact

  15. Summary • Soil • Marginal land may go into corn production • Possible runoff from soil, nutrients and pesticides • Manure from livestock operations can be used to build up the soil and reduce commercial fertilizer cost • Causes strong management to insure economic and environmental integrity

  16. Summary • Water Quality • Possible erosion and sediment issues • Possible pesticide issues • Possible nutrient loading issues • All these issues can cause drinking water concerns and higher cost for treated water • Water Quantity • Will high volume of water use deplete local aquifer or surface water supplies • Will other businesses be affected by need for water • Irrigation of crops, production of products

  17. Ethanol: Impacts on Soil and Water • Provides local jobs • May increase value of corn • Provides inexpensive livestock feed • Improves tax base for county • Ethanol and livestock production • May increase other industry in area • Other benefits • Smaller farmers that may not be investors may recognize higher prices for their grain and reduced feed cost.

  18. Ethanol: Impacts on Soil and Water • Creates the need for higher land management • Creates the need for reviewing economic impacts • Creates potential natural resource problems if we aren’t careful • Can improve bottom line for producers • Can promote diversity in farm operations • Become better stewards of the land • Creates the need for more science based information

  19. Ethanol: Impacts on Soil and Water • Ethanol production creates many opportunities but it is the decisions that we make that will determine if this is a benefit for us or if ethanol production becomes a sinking ship. • Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over. Mark Twain

  20. Ethanol: Impacts on Soil and Water Quality • Questions?????? • Bob Broz • • University of Missouri Extension Water Quality Program • (573) 882-0085 • 205 Ag Engineering • Columbia MO 65211