Biofuels production is an important part of agriculture across the Corn Belt, and farmers can learn about the continuing evolutions in biofuels crop production at Ohio State University’s Farm Science Review, September 20-22.
Experts from OSU Extension’s Agronomic Crops Team will showcase both the history and the future of Ohio’s top crops, greeting attendees in the demonstration plots between the parking area and the main entrance to the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London.
“Our demonstration plots will feature soybean and corn production, insect management, cover crops and bioenergy crops,” said Harold Watters, OSU Extension educator and coordinator of the agronomic crops team. “We put all of these things in one block; as people come in from the parking lots, they’ll walk right through the plots all in one area.”
Watters said the demonstrations focus on how to help farmers do a better job producing corn and soybeans, as well as how to incorporate new crops geared toward biofuels production.
In addition to corn for ethanol and soybeans for biodiesel, the plots will feature biofuels-production applications for wheat, sunflowers, switchgrass, sorghum and even trees.
“We have willow and poplar trees, which are a little longer term crop,” Watters said. “They are between a seven- and 10-year cut cycle for cellulosic energy production.”
He said some farmers in northeast Ohio are already planning production of miscanthus, a type of perennial grass, for biofuels applications. Extension experts will help producers evaluate cropping options best suited for Ohio’s climate and soil types.
“The sweet sorghum is really interesting,” he said. “It’s an annual crop and we can plant it with our current equipment, but we’ll harvest it a little differently. You’ll harvest the whole plant and take it to an ethanol production facility.”
He said the crop has great promise in Ohio, although he does not anticipate it replacing corn as the main feedstock for the state’s ethanol plants.
Similarly, Watters said farmers could potentially harvest more of the plant material for biofuels production than just the grain or oilseed itself.
“Corn stalks and stover can go into cellulosic facilities,” he said. “My concerns are that we remove too much plant material from the fields in those systems.”
Members of the Agronomic Crops Team will be on hand throughout review to discuss these issues with farmers, as well as other production-related questions outside the biofuels arena.
“People can spend five minutes in the plots, or they can spend two or three hours,” Watters said. “We’re glad to share what we’ve learned this year, and help farmers do some planning for next year as well.”
Farm Science Review pre-show tickets are now on sale for $5 at all OSU Extension county offices. Tickets will also be available at local agribusinesses. Tickets are $8 at the gate. Children 5 and younger are admitted free. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 20-21 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 22.
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(Source: Ag Answers)