Just Labradors banner

1 - 20 of 33 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,765 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Farmers planting more corn

I know this is affecting part of my family that still farms. They're planting significantly less soybeans and even replacing some of their tobacco with corn. I know this has been an initiative the President has been pushing, but I honestly didn't think it would come about - at least not this fast.

An ethanol-fueled boom in prices will prompt American farmers to plant the most corn since the year the Allies invaded Normandy, but surging demand could mean consumers still may pay more for everything from chicken to cough syrup.

Farmers are expected to plant 90.5 million acres of corn, according to the U.S.
Department of Agriculture's annual prospective plantings report released Friday. That would be a 15 percent increase over 2006 and the most corn planted since 1944.
 
J

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
People in South Dakota are very happy about this. Our senator, John Thune is on the Senate Agricultural Committee and has been pushing this initiative too. Its hard to find gas without Ethanol in it where I live.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,086 Posts
We have corn & soybean country south of Ottawa, and I'm not sure the push to corn for ethanol is a good thing. I know the chemicals used, and wonder if the *cure* isn't worse than the disease, so to speak. Also, so far, corn doesn't pay... we let a local farmer cash crop a 4 acre on the corner of our rural property (for free), and I know that most years he makes little or nothing off it. He rotates corn with soybeans. I'd sure hate to be a farmer, counting on the weather... too wet and the seeds rot, too dry and the crop withers. Deer get into the corn & trash it. Not an easy way to make a living :(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,276 Posts
Check this out too: http://www.noblejuice.com/ their bottles are made entirely from corn - not plastic.

I think it was Fast Food Nation that did the study on how much of a hamburger, fries and coke at McDonald's can be traced back to corn and it's something outrageous like 80% (ie. cows eat corn, corn syrup in soda, corn syrup in ketchup, etc.).

I guess this news is good for farmers, not so good for consumers (aside from the obvious benefits of less dependence on foreign oil, cleaner air and so on).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,765 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Also, so far, corn doesn't pay.
Perhaps the ground isn't suitable up there to grow corn. By no means is it a cash crop like tobacco was here, but barring weather (which affects all crops and is something farmers have always dealt with) they can make a profit on it...more than just enough to barely cover their costs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
504 Posts
I am usually against farm subsidies....but perhaps the corn farmers should get help if corn isn't quite possible. It would be money well spent on national security if ethanol can really be a viable fossil fuel alternative.


Detaching ourselves from the economies of the Middle East is the best, and probably only way to truly solve the laundry list of problems we have over there. It's only going to get worse. The Middle East produces something like 20-30% of the world's oil now. Problem is, they have the vast majority of the world's unused reserves. That means when the other areas start drying up, they'll still be steaming along and we will have to get more and more oil from the region to meet demand. It's just nothing but bad news.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,086 Posts
Well, our land is on the edge of an 1100 acre bog, so it probably isn't the best soil :p But much of eastern Ontario is good farmland and I suppose there is a good living for some farmers. I just wonder if city folk realize the tons of chemicals (literally) that go onto the fields. Round-Up Ready Corn eliminates some of that, but is just as scary to me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,765 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
I wasn't talking about your land in particular, I was just curious if the land in general affects corn yield - or maybe it's a weather thing?

I am usually against farm subsidies....but perhaps the corn farmers should get help if corn isn't quite possible.
I agree...to the consternation of some of my family. That's why I think there should a time limit. If ethanol isn't self-sufficient, then it's not the time to push for it. I don't have a problem with government subsidies to get things going, I do have a problem with subsidizing things that don't work.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,129 Posts
In addition to the problems with subsidies and the way they distort the economy, I worry about biodiversity if even more cropland is converted to corn.

Does it really translate to cleaner air than fossil fuels? I'm sort of ignorant about this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,765 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
theoconbrio said:
In addition to the problems with subsidies and the way they distort the economy, I worry about biodiversity if even more cropland is converted to corn.

Does it really translate to cleaner air than fossil fuels? I'm sort of ignorant about this.
Got me...but then I'm a Republican and we don't believe in diversity. :p

My gut is that it won't have that big of an effect just because it's still a relatively small percentage of overall plant life (globally). I don't see 90% of farmers switching to corn, I just think those that farm a mixture of corn, soybeans, tobacco, etc. will just increase their percentage of corn. But, I'm no expert so I don't know.

When you burn any organic compound, you produce carbon dioxide so I'm not sure how much cleaner it really is. I'm not sure if technology has improved over the last few years, but it was energy intensive to produce ethanol. So all that energy those refineries pull off the grid probably comes from a power plant that burns coal (last check the majority of power plants still burn coal). It seems you're trading one source of emissions (cars) for another (power plants).

I think it's one of those things that it's a step in the right direction. It does lower auto emissions, and maybe if technology keeps improving it will not be energy intensive and eventually it will lead to lower emissions. Until then, at least it's slowly moving us away from "foreign oil."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,007 Posts
Ethanol based fuels burn cleaner than others, even the 10% makes a lot of gains. And it is a better fuel, higher octane and does not allow mousture to freeze in fuel lines in the winter. It makes the engine run cooler.

Around here corn is the big money crop, there are risks yes but yeads are I believe around 100 Bu per acre on dryland and over 200 in many case on a center pivot. BTW I have heard that a acre of corn field absorbes more CO2 and puts out more O2 than an acre of any rain forest which often is using a lot of O2 to to rotting undergrowth. I have been using E-10 since before it was called E-10, but just plain gasahol. Started burning it in 1977 in hot rod VW's because the leaded premium got hard to get, it worked better and prevented vapor locking when making long runs in the summer at 80 and 90 mph. <Breaker 19 any Smokies on up ahead.) ;D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,797 Posts
theoconbrio said:
In addition to the problems with subsidies and the way they distort the economy, I worry about biodiversity if even more cropland is converted to corn.

Does it really translate to cleaner air than fossil fuels? I'm sort of ignorant about this.
Actually - there seems to be abit of controversy coming out of the woodwork these days about just that. Apparently a test was done (i'll have to find details...i just heard this on the radio) and the use of ethanal didn't really do much better than regular gaz in all driving conditions. I believe they even said some of the other emissions (other than CO2) were HIGHER when using Ethanol.

Edited AGAIN: It was an Environment Canada Unpublished Study (on 4 types of cars) that said there was a reduction of carbone monoxide but not in other emissions. but - it's ONE study so who knows.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,463 Posts
There's no better place on the face of the earth where corn grows better than here in Iowa/Illinois area.

One thing farmers do that is necessary is rotate their crops. If they have a plot of farmland where they planted corn last year...they generally plant beans there every so often. Something about the nutrients being over-used in the soil. So even if they want to plant all corn--generally they can't...or risk the soil losing the valuable nutrients that makes the soil so fertile.
 
J

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
The biproduct after making ethanol is very high in protein and great animal feed. So the corn serves several purposes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,007 Posts
Soy beans as well as other legumes put nitrogen back into the soil.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,765 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
So even if they want to plant all corn--generally they can't...or risk the soil losing the valuable nutrients that makes the soil so fertile.
Nitrogen is the element in question, and some try to "cheat" by using anhydrous before planting (although it's become a common practice to use it regardless just to have a good starting point with respect to nitrogen). At least around here, farmers rotate with soybeans, like Glen said, because they don't deplete nitrogen from the soil like corn does.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,657 Posts
As is typical - Americans want a "one shot fix". I am not against corn ethanol, but I think we need to make sure that the cure isn't worse than the disease. My family are farmers and we grow corn and soybeans and winter wheat. You can bet that farmers will grow more corn if they can get more money for it. You can also bet that farmers probably won't make all that much more money from it, but they'll take anything they can get (have you priced a tractor or cornpicker lately?). Corn is a HUGE monoculture, and with no-till farming, there are tons of chemicals used in it's production. If it's round-up ready, then its benn genetically modified which has is own detractions. It still takes alot of fossil fuel to actually produce corn (gas or diesel to run tractors and for the tons of fertilizers used) I'm not sure that whether it's a cleaner fuel or not is it's drawing card - it's the fact that it lessesns our dependence on foreign oil and is renewable. More things than we can possilbly dream of are made from corn nowadays. If the price of corn goes up, the price of everything goes up. You cant's have your cake and eat it too I guess. I'm glad that they're finally starting to look at other ways of decreasing our dependence on foreign oils, but there's not going to be a "miracle cure".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,961 Posts
I have thought long (20 yrs) on this subject. Up to this point, Americans have taken only BABY steps to reduce CFCs going into the atmosphere. The 1980's... aerosols... switch to pump. 1990's...Refrigerant recovery and raising the price of refrigerant. More restrictions on factories, but not on the people. We should have been mass endorsing solar power. That is something people should start looking at now. You raise the question about the use of coal for processing. If that is indeed what is needed, then the people should be looking at ways to reduce their energy consumption in the homes. If we used coal only where we absolutely need it, then it can be a wash. The fact that no one seems to be willing to accept is that we, the people, need to be more aware of our usage. Neighborhoods need to be structured for walking, homes built to use solar power, ethanol in gas tanks... and so on. The answers are with us. How much energy would it save if all the homes in major cities were equipped with solar power?

Okay.... that's my contribution to this thread. :laugh:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,657 Posts
YES! There used to be this word called "conservation". I'm sorry folks, but with so many of us in the world using so many resources and energy, we might just need to start being careful with our use, conserve, re-use, and recyle. The only reason most Americans seem to be willing to do this now is if somthing just plain ole costs too much to use. But if something costs too much becuase it has actually become rare, then it's already way too late. Prices don't mean everything.Coal is still cheap, but it sure pollutes and ravages the area where it is taken from. We just need to start being more thoughful of our use of natural resources, AND find ways to make energy that isn't dependent on foreign countries, pollutes our atmosphere ( or land, or water sources),destroys the earth and is renewable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,765 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Price does drive everything - like it or not. People will not (en masse) voluntarily pay more just because it's good for the environment, especially those that can barely afford things now. The issue isn't price, that will always drive consumption unless the basic laws of economics are wrong. I see the debate as whether or not to allow the free market to set those costs, or do you allow government to force economics in one direction? I'm not going near that debate because it's pointless. People believe what they believe and that's one thing you're not likely to change them on. Either way, people primarily act according to their pocketbooks. How long have we talked about conservation and better fuel efficiency and dependence on foreign oil and alternative fuels, and on and on and on yet basically nothing changed? Administrations of both parties have tried tax incentives to push people in one direction or the other, or regulations mandating stricter fuel efficiency, but it didn't really do much - but it's amazing how fast people will act at $3.00/gallon gas. I'm curious to see what will happen when we're paying $5.00 in the next year or so. I have a feeling those fuel cell cars will be coming even faster at that point.
 
1 - 20 of 33 Posts
Top