CRESTON, IOWA - The Southern Iowa Resource Conservation and Development Area has been working with Iowa State University and the Iowa Farm Energy Working Group to evaluate biomass crops, including giant miscanthus and warm season grasses that can be used to produce renewable energy feedstocks. Two companies are cooperating in this joint venture, with plans to create businesses that convert biomass to anhydrous ammonia and energy pellets.

"Collectively, these renewable energy enterprises would consume 54,000 acres of energy crops and create over 50 new jobs," said Emily Heaton, Iowa State University Extension biomass crop production specialist. "Project cooperators are sponsoring a workshop where farmers will learn about opportunities to grow and market profitable biomass crops that are adapted to southern Iowa soils and climate"

The Biomass Crop Production Workshop will be held Thursday, March 17, at Southwestern Community College in Creston, Iowa. Registration opens at 7:30 a.m., the program starts at 8:15 a.m. and concludes at 3 p.m.

The morning session will focus on using perennial grasses, such as miscanthus, and other biomass crops for energy production. Iowa State University specialists will focus on species selection, agronomics and the best fit in southern Iowa agricultural systems. Representatives from ShowMe Energy and SynGest will discuss using perennial grasses as homegrown energy, markets and industry demand. The afternoon program features topics on fuels and chemicals from biomass as well as federal support for bioenergy programs.

"Workshop participants will also learn about a new USDA initiative called the Biomass Crop Assistance Program," said Heaton. "This program provides cost share incentives for producers to establish, grow and harvest energy crops."

Registration can be completed online with a credit card (MasterCard or VISA only) at Registrations also may be faxed with a credit card to 515- 294-1311 or be mailed along with a check or credit card information to: ISU Agribusiness Education Program, 2104B Agronomy Hall, Ames, IA, 50011-1010. Pre-registration is $20 until midnight, March 11. After that date registration is $30. Registrations will be accepted the day of the workshop. Registration includes refreshments, lunch and class materials. For more information, call 515-294-6429 or email

This program is sponsored by ISU Extension, USDA-NRCS, Southern Iowa Resource Conservation and Development Area and SynGest.

SOURCE: Iowa State University Extension