Biodiesel triggers research, innovation to grow food supplies

By | August 19, 2009
National Biodiesel Board Director of Sustainability Don Scott recently pointed out another way to view discussions about food and fuel:
Give a poor nation some grain and it may eat for a day. Teach a poor nation to farm and humanity will benefit for generations.

Teaching the world to farm today means utilizing advancements that produce more food, feed, fiber and biofuel with less land area and less environmental impact than old farming technology. A key piece to the new farming revolution is the utilization of food coproducts for biofuels. Biodiesel is a great example of utilizing coproducts and waste to make food production more sustainable.

The equation is simple-successful growth in biodiesel is driving innovation in plant science research. Results of biodiesel's influence in improving practices and outcomes include agricultural technology advancements, improved plant yields and more food on the same acres of land.

For example, data on national soybean yields from 1975 to 2006 show that the yield has increased at the rate of 0.6 bushels per acre per year. Yet, the fertilizer application rate has essentially remained the same. During the same time the herbicide application rate declined to one-fifth of its rate in 2000. Plus, reduced herbicide applications have the added benefit of requiring less diesel for field spraying further improving farming practices.

These improved practices can be translated to improve outcomes around the globe and bring a new light to discussions about biodiesel's positive impact on agriculture and food supplies.
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