by Fae Holin
Hay and Forage
Stephen Gardner, Eddyville, IA, is one of a number of growers with big dreams for switchgrass. The native grass could generate electricity and fuel vehicles while improving marginal lands.
This potential biomass fuel crop, however, has a long row to hoe before it can be profitable for growers, says Bill Belden, biomass project manager for the Chariton Valley Biomass Project. Belden works with Gardner, who is president of Prairie Lands Bio Products Inc., an organization with 60 dedicated grower members.
For nearly a decade, Prairie Lands, the Chariton project and Alliant Energy, Centerville, IA, have invested in and investigated the possibility of co-firing switchgrass with coal to generate electricity.