Distillers grains could be a source of fertilizer for some crops, according to research at North Dakota State University’s Carrington Research Extension Center.
Wet distillers grains and condensed distillers solubles (sometimes referred to as “syrup”) are organic byproducts of ethanol production from corn.
Scientists at the Carrington centre have been testing whether wet distillers grains and condensed distillers solubles are a viable source of phosphorus for corn and spring wheat crops. They applied those byproducts, as well as triple superphosphate, a fertilizer with a high phosphorus content, at various levels.
They found corn yield in 2016 increased by about four bushels per acre when phosphorus (P2O5) was applied at the rate of 40 pounds per acre.
Wheat yield increased by two bushels per acre when phosphorus was applied at the rate of 40 pounds per acre and by five bushels when phosphorus was applied at the rate of 80 pounds per acre.
In 2016, corn yields were significantly higher from applications of wet distillers grains than the other phosphorus sources, but in 2015, condensed distillers solubles produced much higher yields.
Wheat yield also increased significantly with wet distillers grains applications, compared with triple superphosphate, and applications of condensed distillers solubles produced higher yields than triple superphosphate but not as high as wet distillers grains.
“These results indicate that there are nutrient benefits to crops from using distillers grains as sources of crop nutrients,” says Carrington centre soil scientist Jasper Teboh, who is involved in this research.