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Milo takes centerstage as new biofuel
What do you think of when you hear ethanol? Corn, right? Well, you might start associating grain sorghum with ethanol.
News 5's Lauren Conley spoke with a sorghum farmer today on the increasing demand for grain sorghum.
The EPA recently approved sorghum- also known as milo - as an advanced bio-fuel. It's a big deal for sorghum farmers here in Nebraska.
"It will give us a market that we didn't have before," said farmer John Dvoracek.
The Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board is calling the designation a "win, win."
Sorghum, or milo is mainly used as a livestock feed. But, many farmers like John Dvoracek already sell their crop to the ethanol industry.
"Most ethanol plants will take sorghum in along with corn, because there is basically no difference between sorghum and corn," Dvoracek said.
They're so similar, that harvested sorghum fields look just like corn fields. They have one major difference.
"We call sorghum the water sipping plant," said Dvoracek.
Sorghum needs hardly any water to survive making it dependable in times of drought.
What exactly gives the grain the advanced biofuel rating?
It results in even less lifetime greenhouse gas emissions than other biofuels, like corn specifically greater than a 50% reduction.
So, where does this leave the corn industry?
Well, the Nebraska Corn Board is welcoming their competitor. Tim Scheer with the Nebraska Corn Board says, "...if we want to obtain our goal of continuing to reduce our dependence on foreign petroleum, that it will take multiple feedstocks such as sorghum, wheat, switchgrass, stover, etc to accomplish this goal."
Corn is grown almost in excess, while sorghum makes up only a small portion of farmland in the state and country.
The recent push to make sorghum an advanced biofuel may increase demand.
"Everything has it's niche and this might be sorghum's niche."
While most ethanol plants haven't announced any major changes one local plant may be changing soon.
Some reports state that the Abengoa Bioenergy plant in Ravenna has plans to go all sorghum.
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