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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cellulosic Ethanol

I am reading an article today about cellulosic ethanol production in Prairie Farmer.  They point that we have been hearing for years that cellulosic ethanol production is right around the corner.  It looks like the time is finally here a with 4 plants coming on line in 2013.  This would have been a good year to have such a plant in drought stricken areas.  While most of the new plants are going to start by using corn, the potential for alternative crops is huge.  The crops that are emerging include miscanthus, Prairie Cordgrass, Switchgrass, Tropical Maize and many others are being explored.  I am concerned about an exotic plant like miscanthus, but the experts assure me that it is sterile and cannot spread. 

Many also have concerns about erosion control if we remove extra crop residues.  I have seen some combines set up to separate corn cobs from stover to harvest energy but leave the ground covered.  I think the real potential in this technology is in the use of perennials such as trees and grasses to harvest energy from land that is not suited to cropland.  We have eastern gamma grass growing right in front of our office in Shipman. Last year also included a crop of tropical maize too.  A past blog include photos of some of the other potential bio-fuel crops.   This is an exciting time to be involved in agriculture. 

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