New Energy Farms develops energy grass capsules

By Anna Simet | June 19, 2012

By reverse engineering a seed, energy crop developer New Energy Farms says it has developed a unique system for establishing miscanthus that could potentially reduce farmer establishment costs by 50 percent or more.

NEF has more than 15 years of experience in developing perennial energy grasses, but has made significant progress on the Crop Expansion Encapsulation & Drilling System (CEEDS) during the last two years, according to NEF cofounder and CEO Paul Carver, who holds a doctorate in miscanthus physiology. 

Explaining how CEEDS work, Carver said the capsules contain vigorous vegetative tissue, to both protect it and allow it to develop prior to planting. “This is what delivers the more vigorous growth that we see,” he said.

NEF expects CEEDS to allow a farmer to bulk up new cultivars to market volumes three times faster than previous growth systems. “[CEEDS] also facilitates automatic planting, which is essential for cost-effective scale-up,” Carver said. “Planting miscanthus by hand is not an option for large-scale production.”

Carver said NEF has established CEEDS acreage at its own facilities, and plans to have a roll-out of demonstration and commercial plantings for spring 2013 in North America and the EU. Earlier this year, the company held grower events in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., in order provide landowners, farmers and end users with a chance to learn more about the different energy crops and how to plant them.

NEF expects to have miscanthus, arundo donax and energy cane available in CEEDS format beginning some time in 2013 to 2014, depending on the cultivar and region.