Techno-economic analysis (TEA) and life cycle assessment (LCA) of maize storage for small and middle sized farmers

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Suleiman, Rashid
Rosentrater, Kurt
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Rosentrater, Kurt
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Center for Crops Utilization Research
In the 1980s a crisis existed in American farming—a crisis of overproduction, underutilization, and decreasing international market share for raw commodities. Also, the United States’ growing dependence on imported oil and long-term forecasts for increasing oil prices put America at risk. To address this crisis, Center for Crops Utilization Research (CCUR) was established in 1984 through a special appropriation from the Iowa legislature. The center was tasked to respond to the urgent need to improve America’s agricultural competitiveness. Four decades later, there are new opportunities to increase demand for Iowa’s crops. Consumer demand is increasing for new healthful food ingredients, biobased alternatives to petroleum-based products, and sustainable and environmentally friendly industrial processes. The rapid advancement of new food processing technologies and industrial biotechnology enable those demands to be met in an economically viable way. While CCUR’s core mission of increasing demand for Iowa crops remains relevant, the center is also taking these opportunities to grow our connection with companies and entrepreneurs to help them to test, troubleshoot, and optimize their ideas in an industrial-friendly setting.
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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Food Science and Human NutritionCenter for Crops Utilization ResearchAgricultural and Biosystems EngineeringEnvironmental ScienceSustainable AgricultureCenter for Bioplastics and BiocompositesCenter for Crops Utilization Research

Maize is the most widely cultivated cereal crop worldwide, currently ranked the third most important crop globally after wheat and rice. It is a key staple food in many developing countries. However, maize is produced on a seasonal basis, usually harvest once per year. To maintain a constant supply throughout the year, maize should be properly stored. But this may entail high cost and high-energy consumption, which can contribute significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. In this study, three storage capacities (25,000 bu, 250,000 bu and 2,500,000 bu) of maize were evaluated for economic analysis and environmental impact. The results show that the total storage cost per bushel decreased as storage capacity increased (3.68$/bu, 1.89$/bu, and 0.40$/bu). Likewise, energy consumption (electricity, diesel and liquid propane) increased as storage capacity increased. Consequently, more greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, CH4, and NOX) were emitted to the environment as storage scale increased. Thus, to obtain an optimal balance between economics and the environment, it is important for small and middle-sized farms to understand the concepts of techno-economic analysis (TEA) and life cycle assessment (LCA).


This article is published as Suleiman, Rashid and Kurt A. Rosentrater and "Techno-economic analysis (TEA) and life cycle assessment (LCA) of maize storage for small and middle sized farmers." Agricultural Engineering International: CIGR Journal 21, no. 2 (2019): 135-142. Posted with permission.

Tue Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2019