well, it might be time to do some more intensive research! David Blumes' book has info on starch conversion methods, and makes many suggestions for crops/plants adapted to desertified or extreme/marginal land and conditions, but one would really also need to look closer to home for indigenous and/or locally developed crops easily available for trialling and eventual use. Cassava may also be a possibility. Sometimes the answer lies in plants already adapted to the environment but overlooked because they have been regarded as pests or weeds.
You would have to run a series of small scale trials of various crops, ring fenced, or bird-clothed etc (vineyards or other local food producers may have good examples?)to at least verify growing conditions and yield, but if you wanted unprotected "broadcast" crops, then likely candidates would also have to be tested in this way.
Perhaps taking a permaculture approach to planting multicrops to suit any micro-climates, companion planting, micro-sheltering, nutrient exchange etc might find success, and perhaps this would help find some crops suited to "broadcasting", and others suited to higher management and protection in smaller, more easily accessible areas that would give higher yield without having to intensively manage a whole property.
Advice too from local farmers could be very useful, and if arrowroot is resistant to pests, then it may well be a useful "adjunct" crop that suits low management. A starch content of around 20% is "ok", putting it in the region of potatoes, not spectacular, but possibly useable/doable.
The rest of the mass would be moisture, and matter unfermentable such as fibre and cellulose (at a guess), which might seem a waste disposal problem, but could be a good source of material for composting/land improvement, or later on, animal feed supplement and/or bio-gas digestion.
That percentage however, does mean it could be a struggle to acheive a high alc% potential when dilution may be (and is likely) required for cooking, mashing and fermentation. This is where small-scale trials woud be necessary if information not availble for this (or almost any) feedstock.
This may be interesting possiblibility, from another forum, about agave (woo hoo! tequila!)
"Some links to agave development and research in Australia for those interested."http://www.ausagave.com.au/# https://rirdc.infoservices.com.au/items/10-104
Fibrous crops (if arrowroot for eg is fibrous) can certainly have a few issues with preparation (milling, shredding etc) for conversion to sugars ("mashing"), as the fibres can wrap around rollers/milling hammers, cutters etc, and around mashing agitators, if not sliced short, which in itself becomes a possibly more intensive preparation step, looking for a commercial solution, or a home-built solution or modification . There seem to be at least two schools of thought for tuber crops (and what about sweet potatoes I wonder, for your area? climate too dry?), slice, dice and shred, then cook, or cook/steam whole, them smash up. I don't know what is best and it may be very particular to the crop, and again to the equipment assembled, and capability of enzymes used.
This forum has plenty of information on starch conversion methods and techniques that work, plus background info, and plenty of advice on yeast management and nutrient needs, and recipes also that work. Since you have found this forum, it would be a good place to start to get a good introduction to sugar and starch based fermentation and distillation, build up a good idea of how this works, and even a basic set of equipment to gain familiarity with the basics.
Eventually, "fuel" specific info would be more useful, and this is where specific information and samples for trial from enzyme suppliers such as Novozymes (there is an Asia-Pacific division, or possibly a small volume reseller/agency/source such as in links below) would be required, and related forums and books so that approriate equipment and prcesses can be chosen, and best possible yields obtained with the available crops and plant machinery.
Water and energy useage also play a big part to consider. For fuel purposes, a "free" or low cost form of energy for mashing and distilling is the only way to go. One could use solar, or grow crops specfically for fuelling, a google search on "rocket stoves" will throw up some interesting ideas. Water (and even matter with residual sugars/nutrients/enzymes) can be re-used, but pH and eventual accummulation of compounds toxic to yeast can mean it's a balancing exercise.
Networking with other groups if they can be found is also useful and important if starting from the beginning, but it's also important to remember that unless one is *paying* for information services and consulting, collabaration and networking needs to be a bit of a two-way street, co-operation relies on sharing information, success and mistakes etc. The best way to get on well with other groups is to be as well informed as possible, maintain the learning, and share progress, ideas and solutions.
You may have some similar groups to these (and it would be good to find them!), but it's also quite appropriate and useful to reach out beyond geographical borders to find those pursuing similar work.http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/alcoholfuel/http://www.liquidsunenergy.com/http://www.liquidsunenergy.com/learning ... _home.htmlhttp://www.liquidsunenergy.com/learning/gov.htmlhttp://www.liquidsunenergy.com/learning/vendor.htmlhttp://www.sustainabletechsys.com/http://www.sare.org/Newsroom/A-Guide-To-This-Sitehttp://mysare.sare.org/mySARE/ProjectRe ... method=and
type "ethaonol" in search bar
example: http://mysare.sare.org/mySARE/ProjectRe ... y=2008&t=1
10 acre project
forgot to add in this onehttp://harvestcleanenergy.org/http://www.transitiontowns.org.nz/node/3050http://news.ecocentre.co.nz/posts/fuel- ... e-turnout/
experts from our site will shudder at the pictures of the eurostill reflux column shown in these pictures, but for principles, this is *fine*. I was going to attend this workshop, but the cost of return air tickets was out of the quesition at short notice, as was the logistics of land travel and required time. For aussies, the distance concerns for me might be just a trip down the road! http://www.murtagh.com/textbook.html
The "Alcohol Textbook" is an almost indispensable companion, online copies of earlier editions can be found.
There may well also be Australian publications of similar vein.
There will also be regulatory matters to attend to, even if one is "flying under the radar" it would pay to meet all local/state regulatory, policy and safety rules etc as much as possible, in case of an audit (even just to ensure one's own safety, and that of neighbours) or just to make transition to a developed enterprise that much easier.
It does take a while to gather (and absorb!) information, this is just part of the game. Often one just needs to know, what one does not need to know! It's an ongoing process. Start with feedstock and land suitability, then machinery and transport needs and uses (and testing conversion possibilities for such), then put something in the middle as a series of simple steps to expand feedstock capabilities.