ISU Extension to hold miscanthus production workshop March 19

By Iowa State University Extension and Outreach | March 12, 2013

A biomass crop production workshop will look at reasons for increased interest in biomass crops for energy in Iowa. The workshop will be held March 19 at the Johnson County Extension Office, Iowa City, Iowa. Registration opens at 8 a.m., with the program beginning at 8:45 a.m. and concluding at 1 p.m.

This workshop, sponsored by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and partners, is specifically targeted to farmers and land managers wishing to learn more about dedicated energy crops, especially Miscanthus, for heat and power in Iowa. It will also be useful to policy makers, students, educators and the general public seeking to learn more about renewable energy.

Farmers and land managers in the Iowa City area may be especially interested in the topic because the University of Iowa (UI) has committed to an ambitious goal to procure 40 percent of its energy (electric power, natural gas, coal, and biomass) from renewable sources by 2020.

Since 2003, the UI has partnered with Quaker Oats to use oat hulls to produce 8 to 13 percent of its annual energy. Expanding to 40 percent renewable energy is a significant challenge that will require multiple renewable energy feedstocks. In addition to evaluating waste wood and invasive species as feedstocks, the UI expects to rely on dedicated energy crops, of which miscanthus (Miscanthus × giganteus) is the highest yielding. The UI has contracted with two area farmers to produce miscanthus in 2013, with future expansion expected.

Iowa State University has been investigating miscanthus—a giant, perennial grass new to Iowa, but used for energy in Asia and Europe—and other perennials for use in Iowa farm landscapes. The biomass crop production workshop will feature speakers from UI, Iowa State, miscanthus planting company New Energy Farms, and miscanthus farmers from the Iowa City area. Practical information will be presented on the UI biomass project and miscanthus crop management, including environmental impact and invasive potential. In addition to presentations and panel discussions, there will be opportunity for interaction with speakers and other attendees.

This program is sponsored by ISU Extension and Outreach, USDA-NRCS, Iowa National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.

Registration information is available on the ISU Extension and Outreach website.