Giant miscanthus in early stages of growth. The sterile grass plant will grow to heights of 8-12 feet. When harvested, giant miscanthus can be compacted into pellets for a durable, safe and environmentally friendly renewable energy source.
There’s a lot that a farmer can grow in northeast Arkansas. Most producers choose rice and cotton. Some plant soybeans, corn and sorghum; row crops, mostly, according to Charles Glover, manager, Ritter Agribusiness.
Glover works with landowners, their tenants and producers who farm 40,000 acres between Jonesboro, Ark., and Memphis, Tenn., much of it in Poinsett County. Read more »
If you teach it, you must live it. That is the wisdom Steven R. Kochemba adheres to.
Kochemba is a science teacher and the athletic director for the Joseph Badger School District in Trumbull County north of Youngstown, Ohio. He’s also a farmer.
Among his other science courses, Kochemba teaches 8th and 9th graders about energy conservation. While doing research for his classes, “I ran across information about BCAP,” says the educator. Read more »
Chris Holliday has more pastureland than he needs for his cows—335 acres to be exact. So when USDA introduced a way to use that land to help create clean energy while reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, he saw it as an opportunity.
“I thought it was a good idea and I had a good feeling about it,” said Holliday, owner of Holliday Investment in Prairie Home, Mo. He is one of several farmers that signed up acreage in the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, or BCAP, last year. All 335 acres will be used to plant Miscanthus, a giant perennial grass that can be processed into a biofuel.
The USDA incentive greatly reduces farmers’ expenses to finance the planting, harvesting and delivery of the Miscanthus for processing. BCAP pays farmers up to 75 percent of the planting costs and offers an annual rental payment while producers wait for the crop to mature, which takes about three years. Read more »
The Biomass Crop Assistance Program, or BCAP, is still in its infancy, but its potential success has producers and businesses wanting more.
“We have people on a waiting list,” said Tim Wooldridge, Arkansas project manager with MFA Oil Biomass. MFA was selected by USDA to manage three of nine project areas in fiscal year 2011. Each project area was awarded federal funding to provide incentives to farmers to grow non-food crops that can be processed into biofuels. “Our initial target in the Arkansas project was 5,000 acres, which we surpassed in signing up 6,588 acres. We now have 1,500 acres on a waitlist. We could easily get another 6,000.” Read more »
Miscanthus giganteus was a tall, bothersome grass a few years back, a good privacy plant, but to some, just a weed. It could grow about anywhere, reaching heights of 12-15 feet, and do it perennially for 20 years or more.
Some say Miscanthus giganteus had a bad reputation, but it doesn’t bother Terry Lowe anymore. He’s hoping to turn it into renewable energy while it grows on 31 acres of his 66-acre farm in Ashtabula County, Ohio. Read more »
Switchgrass is a potentially important source of biomass (Photo Courtesy of NRCS)
USDA recently named additional states that will participate in the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, designed to expand the availability of non-food crops to be used for liquid biofuels. Read more »