Organic foods are going to take off and see a boom in the coming years. The food industry is ready for it and it is time for more people to switch to organic produce.
When you start swapping your everyday foods with organic varieties, you will not just see a change in your health status, but it will also be beneficial for the environment. Here are some of the reasons why the organic food industry using food ERP software is going to take off very soon. Click here to know more about industry-specific ERP software for your business.
1. Digital Awareness Is At An All-Time High
With most people equipped with smartphones and the internet, it is easy to find information about sustainable food practices and the benefits of going organic. Many e-commerce companies work as a sort of facilitator for the growth of the organic industry with people having easy access to such food products.
There is also quite a bit of competition in the food industry which is set to grow. This is a good thing from the point of view of consumers.
2. Price Difference Insignificant
Yes, organic foods may indeed be a bit expensive but the price difference is not significant. Overall, the health benefits that one would expect from organic foods are more compared to the higher price.
Organic food is a modern, healthy part of a sustainable lifestyle.
3. Going Sustainable
As people move towards a more sustainable world, many practices are becoming common. This report shows how people want to learn how to live more sustainably. Whether it is choosing to buy pre-loved clothes or moving to organic foods, it is all about trying to reduce one’s carbon footprint as much as possible. It is about being sustainable in practices and that translates to food. When one chooses organic produce, it becomes easier to follow sustainable living.
4. A More Natural Way Of Living
People who are inclined to live a more natural way of life or give their bodies more natural foods can take on organic food practices with ease. Organic products are grown without the use of pesticides and chemicals and are therefore less harsh on the body. They are grown following more natural principles of farming.
Why ERP Helps The Organic Food Industry
With food ERP software, the organic food industry can enjoy a lot more efficiency every step of the way. From production to sales, everything can happen in a more streamlined fashion. Here are reasons why using a food ERP system can help this particular industry:
Everything that is happening is in the software. This makes tracking the whole process from organic farming to the end consumer easier and more efficient. Visit TEC to know more about their latest ERPs and choose the right software for your business.
With an ERP it is possible to make sure there is little or no food wastage. Organic produce usually has a short shelf life and it is difficult to keep up supply with demand. With this technology, it becomes easy to do so.
The reduction of the carbon footprint of the organic food company also becomes easier when food waste is contained.
Transporting biomass fuel to a power plant is an important aspect of any biomass energy project. Because a number of low moisture fuels can be readily collected and transported to a centralized biomass plant location or aggregated to enhance project size, this opportunity should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
It will be a good proposition to develop biomass energy plants at the location where the bulk of the agricultural waste stream is generated, without bearing the additional cost of transporting waste streams. Effective capture and use of thermal energy at the site for hot water, steam, and even chilled water requirements raises the energy efficiency of the project, thereby improving the value of the waste-to-energy project.
The hauling distance for biomass transportation to the processing plant.
Transportation infrastructure available between the points of biomass dispatch and processing plant
Transportation is primarily concerned with loading and unloading operation and transferring biomass from pre-processing sites to the main processing plant or biorefinery. Truck transport and for a few cases train transport may be the only modes of transport. Barge and pipeline transport and often train transport involve truck transport. Trucks interface with trains at loading and unloading facilities of a depot or processing facility. Barge and pipeline require interfacing with train and/or truck transport at major facilities either on land or at the shores.
Physical form and quality of biomass has the greatest influence on the selection of handling equipment for the lowest delivered cost possible. A higher bulk density will allow more mass of material to be transported per unit distance. Truck transport is generally well developed, is usually cheapest mode of transport but it becomes expensive as travel distance increases. Pipeline biomass transport is the least known technology and may prove to be the cheapest and safest mode of transport in the near future.
Transportation costs of low-density and high-moisture agricultural residues are a major constraint to their use as an energy source. As a rule of thumb, transportation distances beyond a 25–50- km radius (depending on local infrastructure) are uneconomical. For long distances, agricultural residues could be compressed as bales or briquettes in the field, rendering transport to the site of use a viable option.
Greater use of biomass and larger scale conversion systems demand larger scale feedstock handling and delivery infrastructure. To accommodate expansion in feedstock collection and transportation, production centres can be established where smaller quantities of biomass are consolidated, stored, and transferred to long-distance transportation systems, in much the same way that transfer stations are used in municipal waste handling. Preprocessing equipment may be used to densify biomass, increasing truck payloads and reducing transportation costs over longer haul distances.
The term agricultural residue is used to describe all the organic materials which are produced as by-products from harvesting and processing of agricultural crops. These residues can be further categorized into primary residues and secondary residues.
Agricultural residues, which are generated in the field at the time of harvest, are defined as primary or field based residues whereas those co-produced during processing are called secondary or processing based residues.
Primary agricultural residues – paddy straw, sugarcane top, maize stalks, coconut empty bunches and frond, palm oil frond and bunches;
Agricultural residues are highly important sources of biomass fuels for both the domestic and industrial sectors. Availability of primary residues for energy application is usually low since collection is difficult and they have other uses as fertilizer, animal feed etc.
However secondary residues are usually available in relatively large quantities at the processing site and may be used as captive energy source for the same processing plant involving minimal transportation and handling cost.
Crop residues encompasses all agricultural wastes such as straw, stem, stalk, leaves, husk, shell, peel, pulp, stubble, etc. which come from cereals (rice, wheat, maize or corn, sorghum, barley, millet), cotton, groundnut, jute, legumes (tomato, bean, soy) coffee, cacao, tea, fruits (banana, mango, coco, cashew) and palm oil.
Rice produces both straw and rice husks at the processing plant which can be conveniently and easily converted into energy. Significant quantities of biomass remain in the fields in the form of cob when maize is harvested which can be converted into energy.
Storage of biomass fuels is expensive and increases with capacity.
Sugarcane harvesting leads to harvest residues in the fields while processing produces fibrous bagasse, both of which are good sources of energy. Harvesting and processing of coconuts produces quantities of shell and fibre that can be utilised while peanuts leave shells. All these materials can be converted into useful energy by a wide range of biomass conversion technologies.
Biomass is one of the oldest and simplest ways of getting heat and energy, and it’s starting to make a comeback due to its status as renewable resource. Some, however, aren’t so sure that using more of it would be good for our environment. So, how sustainable is biomass energy really?
What is Biomass?
Biomass is organic material from plants and animals. It naturally contains energy because plants absorb it from the sun through photosynthesis. When you burn biomass, it releases that energy. It’s also sometimes converted into a liquid or gas form before it is burned.
Biomass includes a wide variety of materials but includes:
About five percent of the United States’ energy comes from biomass. Biomass fuel products such as ethanol make up about 48 percent of that five percent while wood makes up about 41 percent and municipal waste accounts for around 11 percent.
The Benefits of Biomass
Biomass is a renewable resource because the plants that store the energy released when it is burned can be regrown continuously. In theory, if you planted the same amount of vegetation that you burned, it would be carbon neutral because the plants would absorb all of the carbon released. Doing this is, however, much easier said than done.
Another potential is that it serves as a use for waste materials that have are already been created. It adds value to what otherwise would be purely waste.
While you can replenish the organic matter you burn, doing so requires complex crop or forest management and the use of a large amount of land. Also, some biomass, such as wood, takes a long time to grow back. This amounts to a delay in carbon absorption. Additionally, the harvesting of biomass will likely involve some sort of emissions.
Is it Sustainable?
So, is biomass energy sustainable? Measuring the environmental impacts of biomass fuel use has proven to be complex due to the high number of variables, which has led to a lot of disagreement about this question.
Some assert that biomass use cannot be carbon neutral, because even if you burned and planted the same amount of organic matter, harvesting it would still result in some emissions. This could perhaps be avoided if you used renewable energy to harvest it. A continuous supply of biomass would likely require it to be transported long distances, worsening the challenge of going carbon neutral.
With careful planning, responsible land management and environmentally friendly harvesting and distribution, biomass could be close to, if not entirely, carbon neutral and sustainable. Given our reliance on fossil fuels, high energy consumption levels and the limited availability of land and other resources, this would be an immense challenge to undertake and require a complete overhaul of our energy use.
Source locally: Using biomass that comes from the local area reduces the impact of distributing it.
Clean distribution: If you do transport biofuel long distances, using an electric or hybrid vehicles powered largely by clean energy would be the most eco-friendly way to do it. This also applies to transporting it short distances.
Measuring the environmental impacts of biomass fuel use is complex due to high number of variables
Clean harvesting: Using environmentally friendly, non-emitting means of harvesting can greatly reduce the impact of using biomass. This might also involve electric vehicles.
Focus on waste: Waste is likely the most environmentally friendly form of biomass because it uses materials that would otherwise simply decompose and doesn’t require you to grow any new resources for your fuel or energy needs.
Is biomass energy sustainable? It has the potential to be, but doing so would be quite complex and require quite a bit of resources. Any easier way to address the problem is to look at small areas of land and portions of energy use first. First, make that sustainable and then we may be able to expand that model on to a broader scale.
Although the conversion of agriculture waste – cattle dung and crop residues – to biogas and digested slurry is an established and well-proven technology in India, it has been under-used, probably because until recently, firewood was easily available and chemical fertilizer was relatively affordable to most of the farmers in India.
The National Biogas and Manure Management Programme (NBMMP) was put in place to lower the environmental degradation and prevent greenhouse gas emissions, like carbon dioxide and methane, into the atmosphere. However, this objective of the program is less likely to motivate the farmers and their families to install biogas plants.
This program rolled out by Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (now Ministry of New and Renewable Energy), New Delhi, with heavy subsidies for family-type biogas plants to increase adoption, was successful with lakhs of biogas plants being installed across the country till now.
It was realised that due to poor dissemination of information and unsatisfactory communication about the plant operation & application of the digested biogas slurry, and unable to perceive the return in terms of value resulted in discontinuation of lakhs of biogas plants across the country.
The entire biogas technology marketing efforts failed to highlight major advantage – an increased revenue from agriculture with the use of high quality and a low-cost homegrown digested biogas slurry as fertiliser. Another advantage was to help farmers’ understand that their land quality and output per acre will increase over the years by the use of digested biogas slurry which has been degraded from the rampant use of chemical fertiliser and pesticides.
Challenges to be addressed
The farmer’s communities today are required to made to understand that their revenue from agriculture is decreasing year on year due to increasing deforestation, degradation of land quality, rampant use of chemical fertiliser and pesticides, lack of farm cattle, injudicious use of water for irrigation, and use heavy vehicles for ploughing.
These ill-advised decisions have made the farmers poorer, impacted the health of their families and the rural environment of villages. The years ahead are crucial if this trend is not reversed.
Farmers with dairy animals generally have free access to animal waste (dung), which provide input feed for the biogas digesters. Normally, these farmers stock-pile the dung obtained from their cattle as a plant fertilizer, but this has lower nitrogen content than the digested biogas slurry created by the biogas digestion process, which is odorless and makes a better fertilizer to substitute chemical fertilizers. They can use the gas for cooking or heating, for running power generators. The biogas technology helps farmers reduce their burden to buy LPG and harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
In short, biogas technology is an integrated solution for sustainable agriculture, improving health and lowering environment degradation.
The promise of biogas technology
Biogas technology can help in the following manner:
Enhance bio-security for dairy animals – being fully fermented, bio-slurry is odorless and does not attract flies, repels termites and pests that are attracted to raw dung.
Digested biogas slurry is an excellent soil conditioner with humic acid.
Save time for women for education and livelihood activities.
Increase forest cover as less firewood would be needed on a daily basis.
Reduce weed growth
Importance of Government Efforts
The agriculture sector is playing a major role in India economy and it comprises a huge vote bank. Our government has launched various initiatives like GOBAR-DHAN (Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan), Sustainable Alternative towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT), and New National Biogas and Organic Manure Programme (NNBOMP) in attempt to revive interest in biogas technology for farmers and entrepreneurs.
Agricultural residues, such as rice straw, are an important carbon source for anaerobic digestion
These initiatives are aimed at developmental efforts that would benefit the farmers, vehicle-users, and entrepreneurs. These initiatives also hold a great promise for efficient solid waste management and tackling problems of indoor air pollution caused by use of firewood, deforestation and methane gas release in the atmosphere due to open piling of cattle dung.
These initiatives aren’t marketing the value which solves a major challenge – degradation of agriculture land for farming in rural India. The initiative and efforts are majorly focused on waste management, environment and towards behavioral change. These changes are of global importance and can be managed effortlessly by generating tangible results for farmers.
India has an aspiring young workforce which is moving to urban settlements in hope for better opportunities, therefore, productivity and revenue from agriculture needs to grow. The biogas sector in India can restore agriculture productivity and strengthen revenue to make it attractive.
Most, if not all of Europe has a suitable climate for biogas production. The specific type of system depends on the regional climate. Regions with harsher winters may rely more on animal waste and other readily available materials compared to warmer climates, which may have access to more crop waste or organic material.
Regardless of suitability, European opinions vary on the most ethical and appropriate materials to use for biogas production. Multiple proponents argue biogas production should be limited to waste materials derived from crops and animals, while others claim crops should be grown with the intention of being used for biogas production.
Biogas Production From Crops
Europeans in favor of biogas production from energy crops argue the crops improve the quality of the soil. Additionally, they point to the fact that biogas is a renewable energy resource compared to fossil fuels. Crops can be rotated in fields and grown year after year as a sustainable source of fuel.
Extra crops can also improve air quality. Plants respire carbon dioxide and can help reduce harmful greenhouse gasses in the air which contribute to global climate change.
Energy crops can also improve water quality because of plant absorption. Crops grown in otherwise open fields reduce the volume of water runoff which makes it to lakes, streams and rivers. The flow of water and harmful pollutants is impeded by the plants and eventually absorbed into the soil, where it is purified.
Urban residents can also contribute to biogas production by growing rooftop or vertical gardens in their homes. Waste from tomatoes, beans and other vegetables is an excellent source of biogas material. Residents will benefit from improved air quality and improved water quality as well by reducing runoff.
Proponents of biogas production from crops aren’t against using organic waste material for biogas production in addition to crop material. They believe crops offer another means of using more sustainable energy resources.
Biogas Production From Agricultural Waste
Opponents to growing crops for biogas argue the crops used for biogas production degrade soil quality, making it less efficient for growing crops for human consumption. They also argue the overall emissions from biogas production from crops will be higher compared to fossil fuels.
Growing crops can be a labor-intensive process. Land must be cleared, fertilized and then seeded. While crops are growing, pesticides and additional fertilizers may be used to promote crop growth and decrease losses from pests. Excess chemicals can run off of fields and degrade the water quality of streams, lakes and rivers and kill off marine life.
Once crops reach maturity, they must be harvested and processed to be used for biogas material. Biogas is less efficient compared to fossil fuels, which means it requires more material to yield the same amount of energy. Opponents argue that when the entire supply chain is evaluated, biogas from crops creates higher rates of emissions and is more harmful to the environment.
Agricultural residues, such as rice straw, are an important carbon source for anaerobic digestion
In Europe, the supply chain for biogas from agricultural waste is more efficient compared to crop materials. Regardless of whether or not the organic waste is reused, it must be disposed of appropriately to prevent any detrimental environmental impacts. When crop residues are used for biogas production, it creates an economical means of generating useful electricity from material which would otherwise be disposed of.
Rural farms which are further away from the electric grid can create their own sources of energy through biogas production from agriculture wastes as well. The cost of the energy will be less expensive and more eco-friendly as it doesn’t have the associated transportation costs.
Although perspectives differ on the type of materials which should be used for biogas production, both sides agree biogas offers an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to using fossil fuels.
Considering the fact that Pakistan is among the world’s top-10 sugarcane producers, the potential of generating electricity from bagasse is huge. Almost all the sugar mills in Pakistan have in-house plants for cogeneration but they are inefficient in the consumption of bagasse. If instead, high pressure boilers are installed then the production capacity can be significantly improved with more efficient utilization of bagasse.
However, due to several reasons; mostly due to financing issues, the sugar mill owners were not able to set up these plants. Only recently, after financial incentives have been offered and a tariff rate agreed upon between the government and mill owners, are these projects moving ahead.
The sugar mill owners are more than willing to supply excess electricity generated form the in-house power plants to the national grid but were not able to before, because they couldn’t reach an agreement with the government over tariff. The demand for higher tariff was justified because of large investments in setting up new boilers. It would also have saved precious foreign exchange which is spent on imported oil.
By estimating the CDM potential of cogeneration (or CHP) projects based on biofuels, getting financing for these projects would be easier. Renewable energy projects can be developed through Carbon Development Mechanism or any other carbon credit scheme for additional revenue.
Since bagasse is a clean fuel which emits very little carbon emissions it can be financed through Carbon Development Mechanism. One of the reasons high cogeneration power plants are difficult to implement is because of the high amount of costs associated. The payback period for the power plants is unknown which makes the investors reluctant to invest in the high cogeneration project. CDM financing can help improve the rate of return of the project.
Bagasse power plants generate Carbon Emission Reductions in 2 ways; one by replacing electricity produced from fossil fuels. Secondly if not used as a fuel, it would be otherwise disposed off in an unsafe manner and the methane emissions present in biomass would pollute the environment far more than CO2 does.
Currently there are around 83 sugar mills in Pakistan producing about 3.5 million metric tons of sugar per annum with total crushing capacity 597900 TCD, which can produce approximately 3000 MW during crop season Although it may seem far-fetched at the moment, if the government starts to give more attention to sugar industry biomass rather than coal, Pakistan can fulfill its energy needs without negative repercussions or damage to the environment.
However some sugar mills are opting to use coal as a secondary fuel since the crushing period of sugarcane lasts only 4 months in Pakistan. The plants would be using coal as the main fuel during the non-crushing season. The CDM effect is reduced with the use of coal. If a high cogeneration plant is using even 80% bagasse and 20% of coal then the CERs are almost nullified. If more than 20% coal is used then the CDM potential is completely lost because the emissions are increased. However some sugar mills are not moving ahead with coal as a secondary fuel because separate tariff rates have to be obtained for electricity generation if coal is being used in the mix which is not easily obtained.
Pakistan has huge untapped potential for bagasse-based power generation
One of the incentives being offered by the State Bank of Pakistan is thatif a project qualifies as a renewable project it is eligible to get loan at 6% instead of 12%. However ones drawback is that, in order to qualify as a renewable project, CDM registration of a project is not taken into account.
Although Pakistan is on the right track by setting up high cogeneration power plants, the use of coal as a secondary fuel remains debatable. The issue that remains to be addressed is that with such huge amounts of investment on these plants, how to use these plants efficiently during non-crushing period when bagasse is not available. It seems almost counter-productive to use coal on plants which are supposed to be based on biofuels.
With the demand for energy in Pakistan growing, the country is finally exploring alternatives to expand its power production. Pakistan has to rely largely on fossils for their energy needs since electricity generation from biomass energy sources is considered to be an expensive option despite abundance of natural resources. However by focusing on growing its alternate energy options such as bagasse-based cogeneration, the country will not only mitigate climate change but also tap the unharnessed energy potential of sugar industry biomass.
Rice has been around for an extremely long time. You can trace its origin back thousands of years. It’s filling, versatile, and many cultures use it as a staple.
Most people do not spend much time thinking about rice farming, though. They might buy rice at their local grocery store, but they don’t consider how it got to them. They don’t ponder the best rice farming practices that let them enjoy this side dish they set down on the table for lunch or dinner.
Let’s talk about sustainable rice farming practices now.
Sustainable farming means practices that don’t harm the environment. When we talk about this, we don’t just mean rice farming. We also mean any farming or agriculture method that produces food and don’t impact the planet.
Why Does Sustainable Farming Matter?
Agriculture helps humans, but it frequently harms the planet. You might plant a simple vegetable garden in your backyard and water it with a watering can. The sun warms the earth and helps the plants grow. That won’t harm the environment.
If you plant crops that might feed thousands of people, though, you need more soil, water, and other resources. In these instances, you must practice sustainable agriculture. Humans can understand this when they look at what mass food manufacturing does.
If you utilize sustainable farming practices, you protect the planet for future generations. You can also harvest food crops while expanding the Earth’s natural resources, not depleting them.
If you can plant and harvest crops so that you maintain or improve soil fertility, that’s even better. Some farmers do these things. Others are not so conscientious.
Soil Enrichment and Clean Air and Water
Any time you can grow rice, or any other crop, so that you’re implementing soil enrichment, that’s excellent. You want to let the soil retain water while storing carbon. You should keep the water and air clean while you farm.
You should also create greater biodiversity through your farming practices if you can. Most critically, though, you should use farming methods that continue these practices indefinitely. If you’re farming correctly, you have implemented practices that someone could continue, in theory, one hundred years or even five hundred years from now.
Obviously, that is wishful thinking. Sustainable farming practices do not guarantee a crop like rice can continue growing the same way when future generations take over. If you use sustainable farming practices, though, you give those generations the best possible chance to enjoy the same crops that we do today. The rest of the world must cooperate to achieve that goal, though.
What Should You See from Your Rice Company?
Getting back to buying rice in the grocery store, you might feel you should support sustainable farming, even if you’re a consumer and not a farmer yourself. You can do that.
Start by researching your rice company. Look at the name on the box or bag and look it up online. You should see that the rice company from which you buy supports large-scale and small-scale farmers. You should also look at any information the company provides about its distribution network.
Their distribution, sales, and warehousing should all exist as harmoniously as possible. They should not pollute the planet, but they should also treat their employees respectfully. They must pay them a good living wage and not overwork them.
The company from which you buy should operate transparently. They should show you on their website the process by which the rice gets to you, even from halfway around the world.
Rice Companies Should Work Closely with Their Suppliers
They must improve rice farmer livelihood whenever possible. They should mention the agricultural practices they use and how they don’t harm the planet. They should support agricultural development chances for local farmers.
Their distribution networks and storage should produce a consistent product that tastes great and lets you know you’re supporting the most modern, sustainable practices.
You’re Part of a Global Network When You Purchase Rice
If you toss some rice in your shopping cart, you may not ponder where it comes from or how a farmer produced it. However, you are the end user following a complicated growing, harvesting, storing, and distributing system that takes many months. If you know more about your place in this complex economic dance, you can decide whether you should continue supporting this particular company.
Don’t assume all rice manufacturers have similarities. If you learn about them, you might learn some harm the planet, while others will immediately mention their sustainable practices.
The rice you put on your plate may come from a different country, but the farmers and harvesters that produce it work hard to feed their families, just as you do. You should support them as they put themselves out there every day, growing and cultivating the rice you use as a staple.
A little effort on your part increases your awareness. If you learn about sustainable rice planting, harvesting, shipping, and storing, you might learn about other food companies and how they operate as well. By supporting the ones that don’t inflict environmental harm, you’re helping the planet, even in just a small way.
If you have doubts regarding your rice company, you can contact them and ask them any questions about their sustainability and general farming practices. Some will gladly talk about these things. They want their customers well informed, and you’ll feel good about yourself as you become better educated.
Global demand for fuel efficiency, environmental quality and energy security have elicited global attention towards liquid biofuels, such as bioethanol and biodiesel. Around the world, governments have introduced various policy measurements, mandatory fuel blending programmes, incentives for flex fuel vehicles and agricultural subsidies for the farmers.
In India, the government launched Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme in January 2013 for 5% ethanol blended petrol. The policy had significant focus on India’s opportunity to agricultural and industrial sectors with motive of boosting biofuel (bioethanol and biodiesel) usage and reducing the existing dependency on fossil fuel.
The Government of India initiated significant investments in improving storage and blending infrastructure. The National Policy on Biofuels has set a target of 20% blending of biofuel by 2017. However, India has managed to achieve only 5% by September 2016 due to certain technical, market and regulatory hurdles.
In India, sugarcane molasses is the major resource for bioethanol production and inconsistency of raw material supply holds the major liability for sluggish response to blending targets. Technically speaking, blend wall and transportation-storage are the major challenges towards the biofuel targets. Blending wall is the maximum percent of ethanol that can be blended to fuel without decreasing the fuel efficiency.
Various vehicles are adaptable to various blending ratio based on the flexibility of engines. The technology for the engine modification for flex fuel is not new but making the engines available in India along with the supply chain and calibrating the engine for Indian conditions is the halting phase. The commonly used motor vehicles in the country are not effectual with flex fuel.
Sugarcane molasses is the most common feedstock for bioethanol production in India
Ethanol being a highly flammable liquid marks obligatory safety and risk assessment measures during all phases of production, storage and transportation. The non-uniform distribution of raw material throughout the country, demands a compulsory transportation and storage, especially inter-state movement, encountering diverse climatic and topographic conditions.
Major bioethanol consumers in India are potable liquor sector (45%), alcohol based chemical industry (40%), the rest for blending and other purposes. The yearly profit elevation in major sectors is a dare to an economical ethanol supply for Ethanol Blending Programme. Drastic fluctuation in pricing of sugar cane farming and sugar milling resulted to huge debt to farmers by mill owners. Gradually the farmers shifted from sugarcane cultivation other crops.
Regulatory and policy approaches on excise duty on storage and transportation of ethanol and pricing strategy of ethanol compared to crude oil are to be revised and implemented effectively. Diversifying the feedstocks (especially use of lignocellulosic biomass) and advanced technology for domestic ethanol production in blending sectors are to be fetched out from research laboratories to commercial scale. Above all the knowledge of economic and environmental benefits of biofuel like reduction in pollutants and import bills and more R&D into drop-in biofuels, need to be amplified for the common man.
Miscanthus has been lauded as a dynamic high potential biomass energy crop for some time now due to its high yields, low input requirements and perennial nature. Miscanthus is commonly used as a biomass fuel to produce heat and electricity through combustion, but studies have found that miscanthus can produce similar biogas yields to maize when harvested at certain times of the year. Miscanthus is a C4 grass closely related to maize and sugarcane, it can grow to heights of three metres in a single growing season.
High Establishment Costs
However, The high cost of growing miscanthus has impeded its popularity. High establishment costs of miscanthus are as a result of the sterile nature of the crop, which means that miscanthus cannot be propagated from seed and instead must be propagated from vegetative material.
The vegetative material commonly used is taken from the root structure known as rhizomes; rhizome harvesting is a laborious process and when combined with low multiplication rates, results in a high cost for miscanthus rhizomes. The current figure based on Irish figures is €1,900 ha for rhizomes.
Research conducted in Teagasc Oak Park Carlow Ireland, suggests that there may be a cost effective of method of propagating miscanthus by using the stem as the vegetative material rather than having to dig up expensive rhizomes. The system has been proven in a field setting over two growing seasons and plants have been shown to be perennial.
A prototype miscanthus planter suitable for commercial up scaling has been developed to sow stem segments of miscanthus. Initial costs are predicted at €130 ha for plant material. The image below shows the initial stem that was planted in a field setting and the shoots, roots, and rhizome developed by the stem at the end of the first growing season.
Feedstock for AD Plants
Switching from maize to miscanthus as a feedstock for anaerobic digestion plants would increase profitability and boost the GHG abatement credentials of the systems. Miscanthus is a perennial crop which would provide a harvest every year once established for 20 years in a row without having to be replanted compared to maize which is replanted every year. This would provide an obvious economic saving as well as allowing carbon sequestration in the undisturbed soil.
There would be further GHG savings from the reduced diesel consumption required for the single planting as opposed to carrying out heavy seedbed cultivation each year for maize. Miscanthus harvested as an AD feedstock would also alleviate soil compaction problems associated with maize production through an earlier harvest in more favourable conditions.
Miscanthus is a nutrient efficient crop due to nutrient cycling. With the onset of senescence nutrients in the stem are transferred back to the rhizome and over-wintered for the following year’s growth. However the optimum date to harvest biomass to produce biogas is before senescence.
This would mean that a significant proportion of the plants nutrient stores would be removed which would need to be replaced. Fertiliser in the form of digestate generated from a biogas plant could be land spread to bridge nutrient deficiencies. However additional more readily available chemical N fertiliser may have to be applied.
Some work at Oak Park on September harvested miscanthus crops has seen significant responses from a range of N application rates. With dwindling subsidies to support anaerobic digestion finding a low cost perennial high yielding feedstock could be key to ensuring economic viability.
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