Biofuel co-products as
Opportunities and challenges
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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Climate change and predicted shortages of fossil fuels present major challenges. Currently, biofuel production is from agricultural crops grown primarily on arable land. Conflict with the traditional use of arable land, itself a limited resource, to produce food and animal feed must be avoided and economic sustainability assured. At present cereals, especially maize and wheat, and sugar cane are used for ethanol production, with soybean, oil palm and rapeseed for biodiesel production.
The expanding transport industry requires increasing amounts of biofuels, and an increasing market for co-products has generated a need for new feedstocks. Cellulosic material, often available from sub-prime land with minimal inputs, and other non-conventional sources are being investigated. Before being used as feeds, some seeds and cakes will require detoxification. The contribution of micro-algae, production of which can be achieved in coastal waters, is likely to grow in importance. These developments are mirrored the broadening of the animal species receiving the co-products, from ruminants, especially cattle, and pigs to poultry and fish (aquaculture). Further developments include enhancement of the use of existing co-products and the introduction of new ones.
This publication collates, discusses and summarizes state-of-the-art knowledge on the use as livestock feed and future availability of co-products from the biofuel industry. The levels at which the co-products could be safely used in livestock diets are also presented. Throughout the book, gaps in knowledge and research topics needed to address them have been identified. These include standardization of product quality to assist ration formulation; testing of new products; development of detoxification procedures; research on micro-algae; and life cycle analysis linked to traditional nutritional appraisal.
This publication covers a wide array of co-products and is a timely contribution, as people's aspirations are rising, evident from the increasing demand for livestock products and an ever greater reliance on transport, coupled with the challenge of maintaining agricultural production when faced with global warming. We hope that the information here synthesized will be useful to policy-makers, researchers, the feed industry, science managers and NGOs, supporting them in making information- based decisions on issues such as food-feed-fuel competition. Hopefully it will help confront the emerging challenges of global warming, in addition to making efficient use as livestock feed of a wide range of currently available and future co-products from the biofuel industry.
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