News last update:6 Aug 2012

Sweet sorghum good source for ethanol

The production and use of bio-fuels is growing. The Indian Crops Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has therefore launched a campaign with the dryland farmers, encouraging them to plant sweet sorghum (variety named NTJ-2) for producing ethanol. The harvested sorghum is sold to a private distillery.

Sweet sorghum has other benefits when compared to sugarcane and maize. It requires only half of the water required to grow maize and one eighth of the water required to grow sugarcane. The cultivation cost is less when compared to sugarcane.

Animal feed
The juice from the stalks is used for fuel alcohol production. The leftover stalks (called stillage) after juice extraction can be used for animal feed, according to Dr. Belum Reddy, Principal Scientist, Sorghum breeding, of the Institute. The sweet sorghum stalks are relished by cattle and the digestibility is higher compared to grain sorghum.

A private distillery in collaboration with ICRISAT is currently targeting about 2,500 acres to planting sweet sorghum. Nearly about 1,600 acres are already being covered during this year.
Field experiments conducted have proved that from one hectare of sweet sorghum, a farmer can harvest about 30 tonnes of fresh stalk.

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