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Project Liberty Celebrates Biomass Kickoff

By Staff | Aug 10, 2010

“This event is a celebration as Project LIBERTY continues to march toward overall construction of the biorefinery,” said Jim Sturdevant, Director of Project LIBERTY. “We’re celebrating the first large scale commercial harvest for Project LIBERTY. It’s a great day for biomass – it’s a great day for biofuels – it’s a great day for Iowa, who is leading the way with alternative energy in our nation.”

Project LIBERTY Biomass Kickoff is Tuesdy, Aug. 17, at POET Biorefining in Emmetsburg. The day begins at 10 a.m. Iowa Governor Chet Culver plans to attend the  kickoff.

“This is more than a celebration,” said Sturdevant. “This is also an educational event. We will be providing a lot of information on how to harvest biomass for cellulosic ethanol.”

Experts will be in Emmetsburg to discuss Biomass and the Emmetsburg farmer.

“We will be speaking to the 85 farmers who have signed up so they will be prepared for this fall,” said Sturdevant. “We’ll also be speaking to the farmers we will need next year and the year after that, so the community as a whole gets a better understanding of what it means to them – as a farmer.”

Lynn Tjeerdsma, Deputy Director of the Farm Service Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, will outline the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). This is an incentive program from the USDA that goes directly to farmers that harvest biomass for biofuels. It is a dollar-for-dollar match up to $5 per ton.

“Farmers around Emmetsburg certainly know about it and are anxiously awaiting it to be official,” said Sturdevant.

Stuart Burrell, from Iowa State University, will talk about soil sustainability.

“Harvesting corn crop residue, cobs, leaves and husks  he’s talk about how it’s vear little impact to the soil when you harvest the top part, say 25-percent of above ground stover,” explained Sturdevant. “He’ll talk about how, if that’s all you harvest, if you take cobs and the upper part of the corn plant, year after year, that’s sustainable with very little impact on the soil. He’ll be able to answer questions that farmers have. Project LIBERTY will be environmentally sustainable.”

The third speaker is from Idaho National Lab, one of the Department of Energy labs.

“Idaho National Labs is the world’s expert in the research and development, testing of biomass storage,” explained Sturdevant. “They’ve got years of experience and they’ve been working with POET and doing biomass harvest testing in the Emmetsburg area already. They’ve been here about a year, doing biomass storage experiments right here in the Emmetsburg area.”

Farmers will have the opportunity to learn what this means to them for storing biomass..

“This is a chance for farmers to come together and say ‘Wow. This is real. I’m either going to be doing it soon or in the next few years .’ They will be asking, ‘How I am going to store it? What are my thoughts on transport? What are my thoughts on soil impacts? Do I need to add more fertilizer or not?’ Those kinds of things will be discussed,” said Sturdevant.

He added, “This is a celebration because it’s real. We’re moving forward. Farmers will seeright next door we’re constructing a storage area. They can also come and learn what it means to them and the things they need to consider.”

POET Biomass will be at the podium, too. Jeff Broin, POET CEO, and staff will be there to talk about the incentives and present the whole package so people will understand the whole picture. They will also answer questions.

“POET will have a booth so people can talk about the incentive, the price of cobs, the biorefinery construction , which is slated to start next year,” said Sturdevant. “Each of the three experts will have a booth and will be available during the lunch period to answer questions.”

With emphasis put on general information about the harvest, that also includes information on equipment. Major equipment manufacturers will be there with equipment. Company representatives will be available to talk to farmers.

The biomass storage area will be ready for this fall’s harvest. To date, 85 farmers have signed up to deliver 65,000 tons of biomass. Sturdevant noted that these farmers are from all around Emmetsburg, as far away as 45 miles. There will be a need for 100 more farmers to harvest biomass next year.

“It’s not going to be as cold as last November (when POET hosted its second field day),” commented Jim Sturdevant. “If it rains, come anyway – we’re under a tent.”