Biofuel

Agriculture
4:45 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Test burn on grass for fuel program raises issues

Credit Wes Agresta / Argonne National Laboratory

A project to use a giant grass for a biofuel is back on the drawing board after several problems arose during a test burn.

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Business Beat
5:18 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Growing biomass for biofuel, money for retirement

Big blue stem is one type of native grass farmers are growing on marginal land in the central U.S. for biofuel.
Kristofor Husted KBIA

Remember in the film Night of the Living Dead when the protagonist, Barbra, is running through the grassy hills to the forlorn farmhouse to escape her lumbering zombie of a brother?

Well, while recently reporting for Harvest Public Media, I spent time on farmland that looked eerily similar to the backdrop of George Romero's black and white magnum opus.

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Agriculture
4:03 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

On marginal land, these grasses may be greener (VIDEO)

Wayne Vassar grows native grasses for biofuel as part of the federal Biomass Crop Assistance Program.
Kristofor Husted KBIA

In the parched, rolling hills of western Missouri, you might expect to see a desolate scene after this summer’s drought. But in this field, hip-high native grass sways across the landscape like seaweed in the ocean.

Wayne Vassar is growing these native plants for biofuel.

“They’ve had corn or soy on (this land) in the past,” he said, “and what’s happened was when you have these kinds of slope it erodes pretty rapidly and you lose a lot of your fertility as the top soil goes down the hill.”

Farmland experts call this kind of land “marginal land.” The hills make it difficult for the soil to hold onto the topsoil nutrients. And along the rivers and other flood plains, frequent flooding can deprive plants the oxygen they need to survive. It all adds up to an estimated 116 million acres in the central U.S.

Land like this might only produce a profitable harvest with traditional crops, like corn or soybeans, once or twice every five years. That’s quite a financial risk for farmers. So how can farmers avoid that risk factor and make sure such soils provide a consistent economic return?

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Business Beat
5:32 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Business Beat: February 8, 2012

Iowa farmer Larry Stolte can store about 60 percent of his crop harvest, and is adding another 75,000 bushel grain bin this summer.
Kathleen Masterson Harvest Public Media

This week: Farmers buying up grain bins to help play the market. Plus, how refineries in Kansas and Iowa could help find another source of bio fuel.

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