Agave as a biofuel feedstock in Australia

Holtum, Joseph A.M., Chambers, Don, Morgan, Terry, and Tan, Daniel K.Y. (2011) Agave as a biofuel feedstock in Australia. GCB Bioenergy, 3 (1). pp. 58-67.

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The opportunity for commercial production of Agave in Australia stems from the substantial carbohydrate and fibre content of Agave, the nature of carbohydrates stored, the pre-existence of an Agave ethanol-producing industry in Mexico, demand for biofuel feedstocks, impressive water-use efficiencies of plants with the CAM pathway, and legislation mandating the ethanol content of fuel in Australia, where an estimated 748 ML will be required for blending with petrol by 2010–2011, compared with about 440 ML in 2009. Agave has potential as a crop for areas of seasonally limited rainfall in Australia, a judgement based upon desktop analyses and agronomic experience of growing Agave in Australia before 1915. Development of a viable Australian Agave farming system requires production be located in suitable regions, efficient propagation methods, mechanized production, and viable business plans at grower, processor and marketing levels. Growers and processors agree that Agave will not be grown commercially until plants are grown, maintained and harvested in Australia, product is produced and tested, and yield and risks are evaluated. To this end, Agave were imported into Australia from Mexico and a tissue culture propagation technique developed. A trial crop of Agave tequilana was planted in northern Queensland and CO2 exchange, nitrogen and water dynamics, carbohydrate content, and system inputs and outputs are being monitored. The experience will be used to fine-tune the farming system, assess production costs and develop robust life-cycle assessments. Processing of plants from trials will test harvesting and transport infrastructure and will provide material to processors for testing. Samples will be provided to potential producers of value-added products. An Australian Agave industry should provide opportunities for stimulating agronomic, scientific and commercial exchange between Australia and Mexico. Successful integration of Agave into Australian agriculture will require a biofuels-focussed breeding programme in collaboration with Mexican researchers.

Item ID: 15504
Item Type: Article (Book Review)
ISSN: 1757-1707
Keywords: Agave tequilana; biofuel feedstock; crassulacean acid metabolism; ethanol; Queensland; water-use efficiency
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2011 03:02
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0703 Crop and Pasture Production > 070304 Crop and Pasture Biomass and Bioproducts @ 70%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0607 Plant Biology > 060705 Plant Physiology @ 30%
SEO Codes: 82 PLANT PRODUCTION AND PLANT PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8298 Environmentally Sustainable Plant Production > 829899 Environmentally Sustainable Plant Production not elsewhere classified @ 50%
82 PLANT PRODUCTION AND PLANT PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8298 Environmentally Sustainable Plant Production > 829802 Management of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Plant Production @ 50%
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