Another Ethanol Question

There’s a lot of money in ag subsidies. Farmers claim to make no money but whenever even a tiny 10 acre plot stuffed away in some trees comes up for auction there’s usually about a 100 pickups sitting there with bidders ready to pounce all over it.

One of the latest things going here is that someone is trying to push turning this area into Western Red Cedar Bio-Fuel Central. Red Cedar will only bring 20 dollars a ton, cut and delivered, and to be financially viable it requires 80-100 dollars a ton. Guess who the people behind this are looking to for the difference…

It’s my understanding that corn also uses a lot of nutrients from the soil.
Do farmers still do crop rotation like George Washington Carver pioneered, or do they just sprinkle on more fertilizer?
Sounds like another strike against corn ethanol fuel: farmers incentive to plant corn too often.

Lots of issues like that, @circuitsmith . The ‘dead zone’ at the mouth of the Mississippi River in the Gulf of Mexico is a result of high fertilizer use. And the water used for corn based ethanol dwarfs the controversial use of water for fraccing, on a gallons per btu basis.

This year’s ‘dead zone’ looks to set a record:

Here’s another article about water needed for ethanol, also pointing to huge requirements anytime irrigation is involved:

Note the source: MIT

From what I can find it takes more than 2000 gallons of water per million BTUs with irrigated corn, maybe 5 gallons of water per million BTUs for natural gas from a ‘fracced’ well.

Think transpiration when considering where the water goes in all plants, especially corn.


Around here the drill is to rotate one year between soybeans and corn, corn drain nutrients out of the soil especially nitrogen, soybeans add some nitrogen to the soil. Of course for better or for worse they use alot of fertilizer also. Corn is usually the big money maker.

Someone talked about the “poor” farmers, I agree, around here they all cry broke, almost all of them. But they drive around in 50k pickups, have really nice homes, spend money at john deere on toys such as 15-20k gators and talk about how they are not making any money. They may not make money on paper, but they are enjoying the “tools” of the farm.

I am not crazy about cash renting the land I have, but its the way she goes… as tupac said, Gotta get paid, thats just the way it is.

Great post, Texases. Unfortunately, it leaves unanswered the question of whether the feds will mandate vehicle designs that won’t be damaged by E15. Therein lies the “rub”. Just as older engines are currently incompatable with E10, our current engines may require additives in the near furure to use mandated E15 from our local pump. The EPA has a history of ignoring repurcussions to consumers. Fortunately, we don;t need to worry about this one quite yet.

The post does, however, emphaticaly describe the oil industrie’s perspective on E15. As you so eloquently stated, It’s Big Ag that’s pushing this. Not Big Oil.

Asecular, you ask that question as if corn is inert, with no chemical processes going on and with complete (what’s the word for “totally unaffected by”? Ambivolence?) for its environment and all that it’s connected to. Corn/corn stalks, like all other current or formerly living things, react to their environment with chemical processes. Just as a deteriorating steer release numerous chemicals, so thus does corn. The steer just stinks more.

OK4450, you raise a side effect of the Ethanol politics that clearly demonstrates the ambivolence (yeah, I like that word) that lobbies, in this cas the ethanol producer lobby, view their effect on the world. People starve? Foodcorn prices skyrocket? Nomatter. Not their worry.

Somebody Pleeeeease pay me for ‘‘farming’’ so dang many weeds !

( I DO know that an awful lot of people receive farm subsidies for vacant lots that have never and will never be farmed. )

@whereswaldo: nice back-handed brag. I read back and got that you have 243 acres that you're renting out. Boo-hoo.

Corrected 23 acres. I bought a property with 5 acre homesite, 7 woods 23 farm. Why wouldn’t I rent it out? I can still run around in the field in the winter. I live in a doublewide modular, Where i live you don’t have to be rich to own acreage.

No one gave me anything, My family is poor, I was born into poverty, single wide trailer in the sticks. Everything I have is the product of clean living and hard work, and not getting into debt. Dave ramsey has a book about it. Am I proud of what I have accomplished? darn right I am.

Asecular, the question I was referring to was the following response to OK4450’s post on how much water corn dispenses.
“So corn sweats? Please to be citing your source”

I have tgo comment that I’ve been realizing of late that the site doesn;t appear to be posting replies as they’re submitted. I’m going back in and seeing posts preceding mine that weren’t there when I submitted mine, and it’s causing seeming chronological anomolies. Perhaps my participation is too irregular now. Since retiring, I don;t seem to have the time to chat.

" Since retiring, I don’t seem to have the time to chat. "

Congratulations! That’ll be my goal.

Thank you. It was a long trek, but well worth it.
Now I just have to find a rich widow…

Tagging along with the part about corn and water consumption I might add that there’s a huge amount of water consumed in the manufacturing of anhydrous ammonia which is quite heavily used as fertilizer here on corn and other crops.

The Nitrogen plant is about 12 miles south of me and they blow through about 6 million gallons of water per day. Most of that water is piped from over 40 miles away and a lot of energy is required to push that much water through a 6 foot diameter pipe.