Biotech Updates

More Corn for Biofuels Would Hurt Water

October 2, 2009

The use of corn as a feedstock for biofuels is feared to cause an increase in amounts of fertilizer and pesticide residues around the corn field, says a study led by Purdue scientists Indrajeet Chaubey and Bernard Engel. The study funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture was initiated to determine the environmental impact of increased hectarage of corn from 93 million acres in 2007 to 12.1 million last year.

The study compared the fields with continuous-corn rotations with the corn-soybean rotation fields. "Nitrogen and fungicides are more heavily used in corn crops than soybeans. Sediment losses become more prevalent because tilling is often required compared with the rotation where there can be no till-field," Engel said. Similar studies will be conducted in other corn-growing states of Iowa, Tennessee and Arkansas and will also include impacts of various biofeedstock, developing management practices to reduce sediment, nutrient and pesticide losses.

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