Corn feedstock is the single biggest input cost for an ethanol plant, and ethanol yield per bushel is one of the most important drivers of plant profitability. Because higher quality corn means higher ethanol yields, Syngenta is working with ethanol plants to help growers improve grain quality and earn a premium for doing so.
According to Chris Tingle, head of Enogen and Water Solutions for Syngenta, ethanol plants are increasingly seeking not just clean, dry corn with little or no damage or foreign material, but also grain with quality characteristics that can help maximize ethanol production.
“A growing demand for high-quality feedstock is creating opportunities for growers to increase their income per acre,” Tingle said. “By supplying the quality grain that ethanol plants want all year long, growers can maximize profitability, while helping to support the ethanol industry.”
Syngenta designed the Ethanol Grain Quality Solution specifically for growers who plant Enogen®, Golden Harvest® and NK® Corn hybrids. Its goals are to raise yields and drive grain quality through effective insect control, early-season weed management, glyphosate weed-resistance management, and Crop Enhancement (the Syngenta global business focused on minimizing the effects of nonliving factors, such as heat, wind and rain, on plants). The Ethanol Grain Quality Solution provides the ethanol plant and its growers more high-quality grain, while improving return on investment.
“Growers with an Enogen contract can receive an additional 10 cents per bushel premium above the current Enogen contract premium by following agronomic protocols outlined in the Ethanol Grain Quality Solution,” Tingle said. “Plus, growers who have purchased Golden Harvest or NK Corn can receive 10 cents more per bushel for any additional bushels of corn produced under the Ethanol Grain Quality Solution protocol, provided those bushels are delivered to the ethanol plant.”
According to Adam Todd, grain purchasing manager for Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) in Galva, Iowa, the Ethanol Grain Quality Solution allows QCCP to buy more corn directly from farmers and provides access to higher quality grain.
“Corn purchased direct from the farm generally has a higher starch and oil content,” Todd said. “It has less foreign matter. Those factors help us increase our crush margins. Higher quality grain is going to have more starch available, and that’s what we’re after, as well as less mold and less bacteria. That starch is going to be more readily available and will help us increase our ethanol yield.”
Todd added that rewarding farmers for investing in higher quality grain can help position them for higher yields, too.
“Farmers tell us the premium available through the Ethanol Grain Quality Solution minimally enables them to pay for a top-notch herbicide and fungicide program, which helps them to not only enhance grain quality, but also, generally speaking, achieve higher yields as well,” Todd said. “For example, one of our growers saw a 19-bushel-per-acre advantage in a side-by-side comparison that was part of the program. Taking steps to manage grain quality can help corn growers improve their return on investment in more ways than one.”
The Ethanol Grain Quality Solution is currently being piloted at a growing number of ethanol plants. To learn more, visit www.syngentaus.com/ethanol or call 1.844.661.4632.