Farmers uninterested in renting land for bioenergy crops

Capital News Service
LANSING — When Scott Swinton, an agriculture, food and resource economics professor at Michigan State University, asked landowners if they’d be interested in renting their land for bioenergy crops, the initial response was unexpected. “The first thing we found was that a number of people that we sent questionnaires to were hoping MSU was secretly trying to find people they could rent land from to grow bioenergy crops,” Swinton said. “I got scores of phone calls from people telling me they would love to rent their land to MSU if we were interested.”
But that wasn’t what Swinton was looking for. Instead, he was trying to study the willingness of farmers to rent land that isn’t used for crops. Turns out, farmers weren’t so interested in the prospect of renting out their land.

Faster decomposing trees can save energy costs


Capital News Service
LANSING — Poplars and other trees can be bred to break down more easily to make biofuel and other products such as paper, according to scientists at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. Their new study found that zip-lignin, an enzyme that indicates the high degradability of plants and that they injected into trees, is already in most plants. Plants that naturally have the highest amount can be selectively bred. The center is a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Michigan State University and other partners. It was established by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Research may strengthen biofuel production from non-edible sources

Unlocking the energy in yard clippings, corn stalks and leaves may get much easier, according to a recent Michigan State University study. That would help bioenergy producers switch to cheaper sources that cause fewer environmental headaches. What’s more, it may mean less reliance on plants that people eat. The study treated plants with ammonia to convert them to fuel more quickly. Converting second generation sources, like corn stalks and switchgrass, to biofuels is easier when they’re pre-treated with ammonia, according to researchers.