July 23, 2008


DDGS shows promise as fertilizer and weed control agent


Studies by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have shown that dried distiller's grains (DDGs) have potential as an organic fertilizer and for weed control.


America's ethanol industry generates an estimated 10 million to 14 million tonnes of DDGs annually from both wet and dry milling of corn, processes that yield fermentable sugars for conversion into fuel alcohol.


About 75 percent of the DDGs are fed to livestock.


To further study DDGs, ARS plant physiologist Steve Vaughn and colleagues entered into a one-year research and development agreement (CRADA) with Summit Seed, Inc., a Manteno, Ill.-based company specializing in turfgrass production.


Since 2005, Vaughn has led a team at the ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria, Ill., to develop new, value-added uses for DDGs.


Vaughn showed that the DDGs can be used as an organic fertilizer for tomatoes and other crops. DDG-treated plots of tomatoes yielded 226 total pounds of fruit, compared to 149 pounds from untreated plants.


Their studies have also shown that DDGS can stop some weed species from germinating.


But some ethanol producers are adopting new corn-grinding methods that may affect the DDGs' usefulness.


More ethanol plants are using the dry-grinding methods to derive ethanol, where the DDGs, germ and fiber fractions are generated before corn sugars are fermented. Determining how this new practice changes the DDGs' biochemical and physical properties is a chief focus of ARS' CRADA with Summit Seed.

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