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ethanol alternative


Guest rich mc
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Guest rich mc

had a talk with jeff hastings of TU yesterday. he mentioned an intersting fact. warm season grasses can be planted on stream buffer strips and are being tested to be a better alternative than corn to make ethanol. the grasses can be cut several times a year with less equipment,less or no fertilizer and weed killer. the grasses also do a better job of holding the soil, and that is year round. anyone else heard of this? rich

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Rich, now all they need is lobbyists, like big oil or & the farmers have. After all lobbyists are what make the world go round. Love the idea of planting things that accually make sense. With ethanol being so corrosive that you can not pipe line the fuel, truck only, I do not think we save much but get controll of the supply.

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Guest One More Cast

Rich,

 

That crop is called Switch grass (the early settlers referred to it as Panic Grass as it grew 12 feet tall, went on for hundreds of acres and it must have been a panic to beat a trail through it for miles without seeing the horizon) and it has very few freinds in Congress.

 

Todd is correct; as long as Archer-Daniels-Midland pulls the strings, Congress dances. Corn is subsidized, easily understood by consumers, the infrastructure to plant/cultivate/harvest/process it is in place and profitable and will remain at the heart of the Ethanol debacle.

 

Switch grass remains a mystery crop to the masses and Congress will keep it that way.

 

Joseph

 

.....who still believes that it is sinfull to burn food for fuel and that's exactly what we're doing.

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Rich,

 

To muddy up the water with facts, here's a link to an article.

 

http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=46753.

 

It seems that the switchgrass strain needed to make inexpensive ethanol is not ready to go. To prevent runaway propagation and increase glucose content, they are genetically engineering a flowerless strain that might see commercial growing by 2011. The first question is whether we want "engineered" plants on the banks of our rivers. Are they wonders of modern science or freaks. Kinda reminds me of the Barry Bonds issue. Anyway my key points are that we cannot just start planting this stuff tomorrow and that the process is not risk free.

 

Joseph,

 

If he followed your logic, Booker T. Washington would have stuck to snack foods instead of coming up with alternate uses for the goober. Where would we be today? Anyway it is too late, corn products already go into ink, paint, cosmetics, shoe polish, tires, wall board, glues, and my favorite-Canadian Whisky.

 

Personally I am willing to watch this one play out and see if the "freak" plants are worth the worry. ;)

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The first obstacle to overcome is in getting farmers to put any type of stream buffer in place.

Not far from me, they are actually removing all vegetation from the far upper reaches of Rock Creek...where you can spit across it.

 

The CRP and National Conservation Buffer Initiative have made noticeable headway in this regard- but we have a long ways to go.

Outreach efforts are ongoing and continually monitored.

 

Rather than tackling the issue as "finding a better alternative for ethanol", I'm more comfortable finding the best methods to keep agricultural non-point source pollution from entering our streams. If it also works for ethanol production, then so be it.

The sediment attenuating capacities of riparian buffers have been noted for nearly three decades now, but long-term studies surprisingly are lacking in many cases.

This is where we are still looking for success stories in a never-ending battle.

Then you take the individual circumstances of each individual case, and look for methods that best suit that particular stream (slope, tillage practices, types of nutrients delivered, sheet flow, etc.).

 

So this "Switch Grass" would most definitely be a mystery to Congress, as it is likely a mystery to anyone that hasn't had the opportunity to study it's effects in a long-term environment.

I suspect there are few that have...as riparian buffers are concerned.

 

But of course we can always look it up and find out. That's what makes the internet such a great tool in conservation today.

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Mike,

 

The corn growing all over the Midwest is already an "engineered" plant.

 

As for your comment regarding my logic and Booker T. Washington, you must have had tongue firmly planted in cheek, Mike.

 

Is corn a bad crop? In a word, no. Does subsidizing a crop and then depleting ground water to process it into an additive for fossil fuel make corn bad? In a word ,yes.

 

Fix all of the above and you still can't get around the fact that we are burning food as fuel.

 

Joseph

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