Transforming corn stover into sugar

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Perhaps it's from:

(1) having been a banker
(2) all those case-studies of new enterprises that flopped
(3) a modest understanding of trucking and transportation logistics
(4) having investigated adapting my baler to bale corn stover

several things about the above proposal deserve closer examination:

For example, in my experience, very-little strikes more terror into the heart of a banker than the following phrases:

(A) "potential new markets"
(B) "active support from government-funded......"
(C) "newly established farmers group"

What this means is that there appears to be a striking lack of any business plan save and except the wishful linking of technical possibilities. Potential new markets may always be little more than an elusive dream, government funding is fickle and farmers are notorious for being inept managers of anything except their own farms.

On the logistics side, producing 60 million pounds of dextrose sugar annually is, at 35 metric tonnes per truckload out, an average of 2.13 truckloads a day which doesn't seem that far-fetched. However, no matter how tightly it is packed, a truckload of reasonably-dry corn stover isn't EVER going to get anywhere near 35 tonnes, and even if it did, nobody seems to be mentioning the conversion ratio of stover into sugar - is it, for example, going to take 25 truckloads of stover to produce one truckload of sugar? and if so, what happens to the truckloads of waste stover?

What, therefore, is the consumption of extra diesel fuel (and premature degradation of our highways) getting stover to, and from, this proposed plant going to do to the "green-ness" of the project?

What is the effect on the soil caused by baling this stover in the first place, rather than leaving it to compost?

What also, is the cost, both in dollars and in terms of green-house gas emissions, of producing and trucking fertilizer to farms to replace the plant nutrient value of the stover being used in this process?

In addition, what, in terms of both energy consumption and green-house gas emissions, is this dextrose refinery going to cost?

At what price level for stover are farmers going to say - "Forget it, at that price I'm not going to incur the tremendous wear and tear on my baler caused by baling stover and am, instead, going to increase the capabilities of my soil by keeping the stover here on my farm"? As a side-note, what are the green-house gas emissions contributed by balers catching fire (as they often do) when baling corn stover in the spring time because corn stover is often too wet to bale in the fall? More to the point, what will be the green-house gas contributions caused by sheds full of bales of dry corn stover when they catch fire?

None of these things seems to have been considered by any of the proponents of this scheme - they had better get some answers to all of these things before they go to see any banker.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

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