By adding biosolutions to already farmed corn fields in the US, a new study shows that in addition to the 9 billion chickens already produced in the US, the same land could also produce 10 billion US gallons of bioethanol, save 120 million pounds of pure phosphorous and avoid over 87 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents.

In a newly-published study comparing the outputs of a conventional farming system versus using biological solutions throughout the agricultural value chain, researchers estimated the increased yields and environmental savings.

The ‘Acre Study’ found that using biosolutions on the same piece of land could dramatically increase the productivity of the land, resulting in more feed/food and energy and less CO2.

Six benefits of biology across the ag value chain

Take a one-acre corn field, which, using conventional farming methods, produces 153 bushels of corn to enable the production of 900 chickens. Then add biology to get…

  1. More corn
    Coating the corn seeds with microbes makes phosphorous in the soil more available to plants, resulting in an additional 3 bushels of corn.
  2. Better utilization of animal feed
    Adding enzymes to the chickens’ feed results in improved digestibility, saving phosphorus, fat, and soybean meal with a slight increase in corn use.
  3. More biodiesel and animal feed
    The fat saved from optimizing the chickens’ feed is used in the production of 13 US gallons of biodiesel while 16 pounds of soybean meal (protein-rich animal feed) is freed up for other feed applications.
  4. More starch-based ethanol and animal feed
    Microbes enable 3 extra bushels of corn of which some is consumed in the modifications of the chicken feed ration. The rest makes 3 US gallons of starch-based ethanol and 16 pounds of protein-rich animal feed.
  5. More cellulosic ethanol
    30% of the corn stover (residue from the corn crops) is removed (30% is a sustainable rate, preserving the quality of the soil) to produce 100 US gallons of cellulosic ethanol and 230 kWh of bioelectricity, using enzymatic solutions.
  6. Less greenhouse gas emissions
    The additional outputs (feed and biofuels) obtained with biosolutions on the one-acre plot replace feed production elsewhere as well as fossil fuels. Together with reduced field emissions and resource savings (phosphorus), this leads to a total reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 1.1 metric tons of CO2 equivalents.

Impressive results for just one acre.

Now let’s take it to a bigger scale

 

Novozymes’ researchers behind the One Acre Study calculated the potential of biosolutions in agriculture. If microbes were applied on all US corn fields, enzymes were used in all US chicken feed and biofuels were produced from the additional corn, freed up fat, and 30% of US corn stovers, the following benefits could be expected:

Click here to learn more about the sources, data and assumptions behind the study, and to register for a copy of the report.