A team of Agriculture Department researchers may have found a new use for a by-product of ethanol production – controlling weeds in potted plants.
Rick Boydston and his team with USDA’s Agriculture Research Service recently completed a study on the use of dried distillers grains, or DDGS, as a weed deterrent in container-grown ornamentals. The study was published in the February 2008 issue of HortScience.
According to Dr. Boydston, they found that when applied to the soil surface, “Weed control was not perfect, but could reduce the amount of hand-weeding typically required.”
When mixed into the potting media, however, dried distillers grains were toxic to transplanted rose, coreopsis, and phlox plants. The researchers concluded that DDGS may be useful for reducing weed emergence and growth in container-grown ornamentals when applied to the soil surface at transplanting.
Dr. Boydston sees the results of this and similar ARS studies as a win/win for ethanol producers and the agriculture industry, noting, “identifying new uses for byproducts likes distillers grains could increase the profitability of ethanol production”.