Sugarcane and sugar beet plants produce table sugar or sucrose. Sugarcane is a tall, perennial tropical grass grown in Hawaii, Florida, Louisiana and Texas. Sugar beets are a biennial root crop grown in a number of states including California, Montana and North Dakota. Several byproducts result from the processing of sugar crops into sugar. The major byproducts from sugarcane are molasses and bagasse. Beet pulp and molasses are the primary byproducts of sugar beet processing.
Molasses, the dark sweet liquid produced during the sugar refining process, has a number of uses. For human consumption, it is used in the bakery industry, the production of alcohol, and in pharmaceuticals. It is a common ingredient in cookies, cakes and baked beans, and is used in the production of rum and ale. For livestock, it is an energy feed. It increases the palatability of livestock feed and serves as a binder in feed pellets.
After the sugar is pressed from sugarcane, bagasse is the fibrous material that remains. The most common use for bagasse is the fuel to run sugarcane mills. It can also be processed into paper, replacing wood pulp. Bagasse is used to manufacture plates, cups and bowls, replacing Styrofoam. It can also be made into ethanol. Brazil is the world leader in ethanol production from sugar and sugar byproducts.
At the sugar processing plant, sugar beets are sliced, cooked and pressed. The remaining pulp is sold as wet beet pulp or dried into shreds or pellets. Beet pulp serves as a supplemental feed for livestock. It is low in crude protein, but relatively high in energy.
When sugar beets arrive at the processing plant, foreign material, leaves and small beets are separated from the sugar beets prior to processing. This material is called beet tailings and is used as a livestock feed. Beet tops are removed from the sugar beets and fed to livestock.
- USDA Rural Development; Ethanol from Sugar; What are the Prospects for U. S. Sugar Co-ops?; James Jacobs
- North Dakota State University; Feeding Sugar Beet Byproducts to Cattle; Greg Lardy, et al.; May 2008
- Space Daily; “Developing Uses for Sugar-Cane Bagasse: Biotechnology Applied to the Sugar Industry”; November 2006
- Alternative Field Crops Manual; Sugarbeets; A. W. Cattanach, et al.
- Waynesworld; Grass Family (Poaceae)