In response to Libby's question about using corn stalks for enthanol
production: My understanding is that any plant material can be used fir
ethanol production, but because corn grain is made up of relatively simple
starches and sugars, it is easier to break down and produces more ethanol
for less cost using todays technology. That is why people are talking about
increased corn acreage.
The other point to consider is that we may not want to encourage farmers to
remove more of the plant material from the field. Growing corn is hard
enough on the land--if remove all of the above ground growth, we are leaving
nothing to plow back into the ground and leave the soil more exposed to
What we really should be doing is looking at other, more sustainable species
for ethanol production, like switchgrass.
Department of Agronomy
University of Wisconsin
1575 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706