Production and Processing of Raw Bio-Mass for High Quality Bio-Fuel in the Catskill Region
Declining agriculture from dwindling farms and the need for alternative energy faces the residents of Delaware County every day. With the number of farms reducing their size or shutting down all together there is an abundance of idle fields in a close proximity. These idle fields could be utilized by farmers to grow bio-mass resource to supply mills with a product to produce high quality pellets for energy production. Having a local supply of Bio-fuel would help decrease the demand for fossil fuels in this region.
These pellets may also be used as a fuel source to be used on the farm. Portable pellet mills are presently coming onto the market to make the pellets on site.
Our project is to lay out and prepare ten 1 acre test plots. This involved mowing, spraying twice, soil tests, fertilization and planting, grass seeds and plugs. Some species will need to be planted as plugs due to the short growing season in this region. It is necessary to keep the field mowed to 6-8 inches during the first growing season.
- Miscanthus & Willow Plantings
- Upper Field – Switchgrass, Tall Wheat Grass, Canary Grass & Bluestem Plantings
- Mixed Forbes Planting
We accomplished all our targeted plantings and are eagerly waiting to see survival and growth rates in 2011.
Growth and survival rates have been monitored throughout the growing season. We have harvested some bio-mass and it will be run through a pellet machine in spring of 2011. Most harvesting will occur in late Aug/Sept 2011. The cut grass will be left to season for varying times, directly from the field to one week. Additional mixing and testing in pellet machine is scheduled for fall of 2011.
We also have two seminars set for 2011. One in early spring and another for fall 2011.
Accomplishments in 2010
Tested effectiveness of spraying times
Tested soil preparation utilizing discing and no-till methods
Tested planting & germination of 8 varieties of warm season grasses
Tested planting times for germination rates
Planted 4 willow varieties and 8 miscanthus grasses via plugs
Planted 4 varieties of bamboo
Harvested small amount of bio-mass for testing spring 2011
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
We have come to some conclusions but will wait till next year after the grasses & willow have a second year of root growth to discuss them in detail. In summary we feel:
Miscanthus Giganteus is the best grass for our region. It seems to be much hardier, grows faster, needs less water & fertilizer and produces the most bio-mass per acre. The smaller miscanthus also did very well, growing faster than the other grasses. The willow will need more time to make a judgment in a comparative analysis to the miscanthus.
The bamboo struggled to get started, but seems to have set good roots by fall. The canary grass, switchgrass and mixed forbes germinated well but will need one additional year to grow. Bluestem was a failure. Germination was spotty at best.
The best germination was realized when fields were disc prepared. No-till germinated was OK but at a lower rate.
304 Sutherland Road
East Meredith, NY 13757
Office Phone: 6077463089
3266A RT 352
Big Flats Plant Materials Center
Corning, NY 14830
Office Phone: 6075628404