Growers should plan ahead for energy beet production
Energy beet seeds are produced by Syngenta-Hilleshog and BetaSeed. The companies also sponsor the trial plot research run by NDSU.
"NDSU research shows that energy beets can be grown with great success outside of the traditional production area of the Red River Valley," says Blaine Schatz, NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center director. "Energy beets have many appealing attributes. Growers can expect energy beets to contribute toward improved soil health because the tap roots penetrate as much as 6 feet and use nutrients, nitrogen and water that other crops don't reach."
Energy beets improve internal soil drainage, are relatively tolerant to drought and saline (alkaline) soils, and have a relatively low nitrogen requirement.
The development of energy beets as a new industrial crop is a partnership between Green Vision Group (GVG), based in Fargo, and Heartland Renewable Energy in Iowa. The research is being led by NDSU. Additional project funding is provided by the North Dakota Renewable Energy Council, North Dakota Agricultural Products Utilization Commission and many communities and private companies.
The project is in its final research phase, which will contribute to future commercialization efforts, says Maynard Helgaas, GVG president. Along with the trial plots, other research efforts conducted by NDSU focus on feedstock storage methods that enable year-round processing and front-end processing methods that maximize sugar yields and minimize costs.
Commercialization of energy beets is planned for 2014 or 2015. The first facility could be followed by a series of up to 16 plants across the state that could produce sugar for industrial purposes or produce advanced biofuel. Each plant could create 23 jobs and require 30,000 acres of energy beets for feedstock.
Growers can learn more at http://www.beetsallbiofuel.com/.