Sweet Briar Plants Native Grasses for Biofuels
(TimesDispatch.com) LYNCHBURG — Conservation researchers set about killing the grass on about 500 acres of land at Sweet Briar College this spring in preparation for a multiyear study that could have implications for landowners and environmentalists nationwide.
The Conservation Innovation Grant is from the federal Natural Resource Conservation Service and the United States Department of Agriculture.
Last month, Sweet Briar College announced it had partnered with FDC Enterprises, offering up about 500 acres of land, on which to conduct its study.
“These are dedicated energy crops that are environmentally sustainable and wildlife-friendly,” Tom Schwartz, vice president of marketing for FDC Enterprises, said.
Now, the company is beginning the process of planting warm-season grasses, big bluestem and switch grasses, which are native to this area…
Researchers, as well as some SBC teachers and students, will monitor closely this pollinator habitat, which is expected to make a positive impact on agricultural crops. About 30 days after the planting, Tom Schwartz said visitors can expect to see some changes in the landscape. By the fall, there will be a marked change.
In the fall of 2016, the company anticipates collecting its first full harvest of warm-season grass, which Sweet Briar will sell for biofuel. Researchers will be studying the land and the affects for three years, at which point Sweet Briar will have an option to sign on for another five years. READ MORE