Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
This study employs a national linear programming model to analyze the trade-offs between alcohol production and soil loss. The model minimizes agricultural production costs while meeting commodity demands in the year 2000, and incorporates alcohol production from corn grain and corn residue. Alcohol conversion rates of 3 gallons/bushel of corn grain and 1 gallon/20 pounds of corn residue are used to approximate technology available by 2000;Alcohol production from corn grain at the levels set as goals by the Carter Administration (10 billion gallons) would require 3.3 billion additional bushels of corn. Much of this additional corn would be grown on land previously in soybeans. But some corn would be grown on marginal land which is considered "high potential" for conversion. Close to half of the marginal land is erosive and the production of corn needed for alcohol increases this erosive potential. It is, however, possible to produce alcohol from corn grain at the 8, 10, or even 12 billion gallon level without increasing soil loss if soil conserving farming techniques are employed. Farmers as a whole would have to switch almost completely away from moldboard plowing in the fall. The use of minimum tillage techniques in conjunction with conservation practices such as contouring, strip cropping, and terracing, would be needed to counteract the erosive potential of alcohol production from corn grain. The use of corn residue for alcohol production is even more erosive. This study estimates that even if farmers switched totally to spring plowing and minimum tillage in conjunction with increased conservation practices, soil loss could increase by almost 20 percent if corn residue was harvested to meet 2000 alcohol goals of 12 billion gallons.
Digital Repository @ Iowa State University, http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/
Douglas A. Christensen
Christensen, Douglas A., "Alcohol from corn: can our soil survive? " (1982). Retrospective Theses and Dissertations. 7032.