Argonne National Laboratory found a home for its biomass test site on the Ray Popejoy farm in the Indian Creek watershed.
Argonne is exploring the potential for farmers to employ underused or marginal land to produce crops for biomass energy. Factors studied include economic potential and water quality benefits.
As this project moves forward, funding from the Department of Energy is expected to support the scientific investigation and field study. Agribusiness will assist with identifying potential supply chain participants.
The project will address:
- the disconnection between producers and users (potential new conversion facilities are constrained by the lack of lignocelluloses feedstock, producers of feedstock do not embrace these new crops because they have no outlet for their product);
- the need to produce biomass in a sustainable way, namely not displacing other land uses, and minimizing environmental impacts to air and water.
A DOE-funded analysis to date has shown that there is a significant opportunity to greatly increase the land available for biomass production if under-productive acreage in edge of field, riparian and roadway buffers is used, even partially.
Further, increases in biomass productivity on these lands, potentially doubling the harvestable biomass, are achievable through the reuse of impaired water and entrained nutrients from upstream grain farming.
High school students planted willow saplings as part of a bioenergy study in the Indian Creek watershed. CTIC photo.