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The Acre Study shows how the same land can produce more feed, food and energy with lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The report was presented at Global Partnerships Week, a forum of business and governmental leaders, in Washington, D.C. It comes as part of our efforts to make progress towards the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

“The Acre Study calculates the potential of biosolutions in agriculture, answering the need to produce more from the resources we have, in a more sustainable way,” says Claus Stig Pedersen, Novozymes Head of Corporate Sustainability, who presented the study.

The study begins by looking at an average one-acre U.S. corn field, which, using conventional farming methods, produces 153 bushels of corn used to feed 900 chickens. By adding biology to the value chain, the study shows how it would be possible to produce:

1. More corn
Coating the corn seeds with microbes makes phosphorous in the soil more available to plants, resulting in an additional 3 bushels of corn.

2. More effective animal feed
Adding enzymes to the chickens’ feed results in improved digestibility, saving fat and increasing the uptake of phosphorous, thus reducing feed costs.

3. More biodiesel
The fat saved from optimizing the chickens’ feed is used in production of 13 U.S. gallons of biodiesel.

4. More starch-based ethanol and animal feed
Microbes enable 3 extra bushels of corn. One of these is used to make 3 U.S. gallons of starch-based ethanol and 16 pounds of animal feed. And then combined with optimizations in poultry feed, we create a total of 32 pounds of protein-rich animal feed.  

5. More cellulosic ethanol
30% of the harvest’s corn stover is removed (30% is a sustainable rate, preserving the quality of the soil) to produce 100 U.S. gallons of cellulosic ethanol and 230 kWh of bioelectricity, using enzymatic solutions.

6. Lower greenhouse gas emissions
Farming the one-acre plot using biosolutions instead of conventional farming methods avoids 1.1 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

These results, for just one acre, become substantial when taken to the U.S. national level. The Acre Study shows that on top of the 9 billion chickens already produced in the U.S. today, the same land could – in addition - produce 10 billion U.S. gallons of bioethanol, 2.3 billion pounds of animal feed, save 120 million pounds of pure phosphorous, and avoid over 87 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents (like taking 18 million cars off the road).

The Acre Study was conducted using a life-cycle approach, based on conservative estimates and data from published studies in the scientific literature, and studies conducted by Novozymes that have been through ISO review and third-party verification

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