Grass for Gas: Bioenergy in your tank

Grass is fuel for livestock. That's pretty well understood at On Pasture. What we are going to explore here is the option of using it as a fuel replacement. If we can rely less on fossil fuels, we might be better off. Biomass grass crops are being seen to have a smaller carbon footprint and might be the way to do that. While growing the crop and producing the fuel can be relatively straightforward, there are not currently extensive markets for the fuel. This presents a chicken-and-egg problem for the farmer and their potential customers. Farmers are hesitant to grow a crop with an uncertain market, and building owners and municipalities are not likely to install a heating system for which they can’t find a reliable fuel source. Close cooperation between fuel suppliers and customers is important, and long-term contracts can help build confidence between partners. There are alternative markets for grass crops that can be used in the interim while a fuel market is established. These alternatives include fiber for paper products, animal bedding, compost for mushroom growers, resin in particle board, absorbents for environmental clean-up, and dairy rations. Considering additional benefits to the farm can be helpful, too. For example, using grass to help clean up runoff from the farm, thereby helping to clean up local waterways, can be a valuable marketing as

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2 thoughts on “Grass for Gas: Bioenergy in your tank

  1. 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. 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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