Bioenergy Research and the Future for Michigan Farmers
by Russ White and Mackenzie Mohr(Michigan Live) …“One of the things that we’re evaluating with cellulosic ethanol is (if there) are there places we can produce these crops on lands that aren’t producing food crops,” he ( MSU Extension’s Bioenergy Educator Dennis Pennington) says. This research hopes to eliminate the food vs. fuel issue because if the land was suitable for food products like corn and soybean, those crops would indeed be growing there.
Farmers are paying attention to commodity crop research, Pennington says, but are not developing bioenergy crops because of the lack of a dedicated refinery. “We don’t have any commercial biorefineries in the state of Michigan that are looking for biomass to contract,” he says. Similarly, energy companies do not want to open refineries if farmers are not producing biomass, says Pennington. “You have this issue; which comes first? You almost have to develop these two things simultaneously, which is a real challenge.”
…Pennington’s research also looks at what unused land near airports and highways could potentially yield biofuel crops. “One of the concerns with planting any crop around the perimeter of an airport was (if it) will it attract flocking birds or large-bodied fowl,” he says. READ MORE LISTEN to interview