Oklahoma: world's largest switchgrass farm to be planted this spring

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Thread: Oklahoma: world's largest switchgrass farm to be planted this spring

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    Oklahoma: world's largest switchgrass farm to be planted this spring

    Switchgrass acres dedicated to ethanol

    The Oklahoma Bioenergy Center has secured 1,000 acres of land in the Oklahoma Panhandle to plant the largest dedicated switchgrass plot in the world.

    It will harvest the grass to provide biomass to the proposed Abengoa biorefinery at Hugoton, which will include a commercial cellulosic demonstration plant.

    The Bioenergy Center will demonstrate growing and harvesting techniques for switchgrass, which has been touted as an ideal feedstock for cellulosic ethanol because it does not compete with human and animal food sources.

    Planting will begin in the next 45 days near Guymon, Okla.
    Slowly but surely, we continue to move forward toward cellulosic ethanol. The refinery is under construction. Now the biomass is being planted.

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    Re: Oklahoma: world's largest switchgrass farm to be planted this spring

    More good news. Thanx Ron.
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    Re: Oklahoma: world's largest switchgrass farm to be planted this spring

    I second that. There's not much else that can grow out in the Okla. panhandle anyway. Almost makes me wish I had 500-1000 acres, I could let someone pay me to grow switchgrass.

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    Re: Oklahoma: world's largest switchgrass farm to be planted this spring

    Quote Originally Posted by oklapike View Post
    I second that. There's not much else that can grow out in the Okla. panhandle anyway. Almost makes me wish I had 500-1000 acres, I could let someone pay me to grow switchgrass.
    Since you live there, I am curious...what makes farming other crops difficult there? Us gardeners are always curious about things like that.
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    Re: Oklahoma: world's largest switchgrass farm to be planted this spring

    Quote Originally Posted by johnstarnes View Post
    Since you live there, I am curious...what makes farming other crops difficult there? Us gardeners are always curious about things like that.

    In most of the state, there really isn't a problem growing/farming other crops (i.e. alfalfa, wheat, and so forth) I was speaking specifically about out in the panhandle.

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    Re: Oklahoma: world's largest switchgrass farm to be planted this spring

    Quote Originally Posted by oklapike View Post
    In most of the state, there really isn't a problem growing/farming other crops (i.e. alfalfa, wheat, and so forth) I was speaking specifically about out in the panhandle.

    That was what I meant...what makes farming difficult in the panhandle region?
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    Re: Oklahoma: world's largest switchgrass farm to be planted this spring

    I hope someday there will be BIG sugarcane farms in the south and Mexico.

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    Re: Oklahoma: world's largest switchgrass farm to be planted this spring

    Quote Originally Posted by johnstarnes View Post
    That was what I meant...what makes farming difficult in the panhandle region?

    Mainly the climate and the soil. It's near desert out in that part of the state, and then soil is pretty poor, rocky and alkaline.

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    Re: Oklahoma: world's largest switchgrass farm to be planted this spring

    Quote Originally Posted by oklapike View Post
    Mainly the climate and the soil. It's near desert out in that part of the state, and then soil is pretty poor, rocky and alkaline.

    Thanks I suspected that as I used to garden in New Mexico and Colorado, and the parts of Oklahoma I saw on my many annual road trips from Denver to Tampa and back struck me as more benign versions of those regions where high alkalinity, soluble salts, lack of rainfall and soil nutrients made gardening a real challenge. I suspect that switchgrass farm is going to need a LOT of soil inputs to provide nitrogen and phosphorus plus lower the pH to free up micronutrients, plus a huge amount of water to thrive. The more I see and read as a gardener, environmentalist and car lover, the more I want to see cellulosic ethanol made from plant waste vs. cultivated crops used as a stop gap fuel in cars as we approach truly sustainable power sources for cars, like solar or bio-derived hydrogen for fuel cells, or solar electric for battery cars. The switchgrass plant I am testing here in a pot in humid Tampa is a real water hog. Thanks for the insight into that part of Oklahoma.
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    Re: Oklahoma: world's largest switchgrass farm to be planted this spring

    You do realize that potted plants require substantially more water than when they are in the ground?
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    Re: Oklahoma: world's largest switchgrass farm to be planted this spring

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfman01 View Post
    You do realize that potted plants require substantially more water than when they are in the ground?
    Actually no...I grow a few hundred plants in pots in a moisture retentive soil mix with mulch to get them through this three year drought, a trick I picked up from some brilliant gardeners I know in desert California.....when your entire soil mass has become dry (our water table has plunged to 8 feet down and trees are dying in droves here and we can only water 1/2 day per week the last 3 years now), it MUCH easier to keep a localized soil mass in a pot damp then trying to keep the entire soil mass of a property wet. But my main point was that with that region being so very arid and switchgrass wanting 2-3 feet of water per acre per growing season, it could take a LOT of water that could be better used I feel to grow food crops for people or livestock. So I personally continue to favor cellulosic ethanol from plant waste vs. cultivated crops.
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    Re: Oklahoma: world's largest switchgrass farm to be planted this spring

    Yea, but biodeisel from algae grows year-round. No planting or harvesting required :-)
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    Re: Oklahoma: world's largest switchgrass farm to be planted this spring

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeB View Post
    Yea, but biodeisel from algae grows year-round. No planting or harvesting required :-)

    Yes I share your enthusiasm for a few reasons...it uses brackish vs. potable water, has astonishing yields per acre, would not add nutrient flows to rivers and worsen those very disturbing (growing) "dead zones" in the Gulf where much of our seafood comes from and that wildlife depends on, plus yields proteins consumable by livestock and people. Leftover organic matter should make an excellent soil amendment too.
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    Re: Oklahoma: world's largest switchgrass farm to be planted this spring

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeB View Post
    Yea, but biodeisel from algae grows year-round. No planting or harvesting required :-)
    I'm curious about the possibility of harvesting the 'algal blooms' from these areas and producing bio-oils from that. That would seem to be an environmental plus...........

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    Re: Oklahoma: world's largest switchgrass farm to be planted this spring

    Quote Originally Posted by Knucklehead View Post
    I'm curious about the possibility of harvesting the 'algal blooms' from these areas and producing bio-oils from that. That would seem to be an environmental plus...........
    Here in Florida we can get BIG blooms and sometimes I have manually harvested some to add to my mulch and compost....I think the one loaded with all that oil is a very specific species, though I have no idea which.
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