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Grass for Gas: Bioenergy in your tank

By   /  July 21, 2014  /  2 Comments

Are you a “Grass Farmer?” Well here’s a look at a way you can add new meaning to that term.

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Baling switchgrass at Meach Cove Farm Grass is fuel for livestock. That’s pretty well understo
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About the author

Sarah Galbraith is the program manager for the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative at Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF) and also coordinates bioenergy cross-over with the Vermont Farm to Plate Network. With over seven years of community-scale and locally-sourced biofuel experience, Sarah administers small grants to support researchers and technical assistance providers who are advancing biofuel production in Vermont and leads strategic planning and coordination among stakeholders in the program areas of grass thermal energy, oilseeds for fuel and feed, and algae for fuel and wastewater management. Sarah assists farmers, facilities, and communities by providing resources and technical assistance for energy crops to be grown alongside food production. Prior to transitioning into the bioenergy management role at VSJF, Sarah supported Farm to Plate Network activities and contributed to several chapters of the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan. Previously, Sarah worked at the Biomass Energy Resource Center (BERC), where she conducted over 50 bioenergy project assessments including siting, technology selection, fuel sourcing, economic feasibility, and estimations of sustainable forest fuel availability. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Eastern Connecticut State University. She lives in Marshfield, Vermont with her long-time partner, their dog, a large garden, and a small woodlot.

2 Comments

  1. Chip Hines says:

    I am generally opposed to using crops to make fuel. Being from the drylands of Eastern Colorado, I cannot put any figures in the cost estimate calculator. I have never used fertilizer or chemicals. I do know about mechanical costs and this procedure has several and usually producers estimate these too low.

    Taking the grass off is depleting the soil of organic matter and diminishing soil life. This old saying is still apt. “He who sells hay is selling his soil.”

    Methanol from corn is marginal and I believe this will be also. There will come a day when every acre will be need for human consumption. These acres will be best suited for cattle production.
    Chip Hines

  2. Gene Schriefer says:

    Grass for bioenergy is a chicken/egg issue. The other is without multiple buyers for the grass (switchgrass) there is alack of competition on price.

    For slightly less yield than switchgrass, producers could grow big bluestem which has far superior forage quality and palatability over switchgrass, providing alternative marketing options for grazing, as hay or potentially biomass.

    So far the grass biomass market simply is not offering enough financial incentive to make it worthwhile as a fuel IMO

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