Monday, July 9, 2012

Growing Shrub Willow for Fuel

There is growing interest in planting woody biomass crops to be harvested specifically for fuel production.  Penn State University has a project up and running looking at hybrid willow cultivars to determine which grow best on Pennsylvania soils and under our growing conditions.  This project is funded through a Sun Grant Initiative and reflects a Northeast partnership with Cornell, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Michigan State and West Virginia.   The project will provide a robust network to evaluate new cultivars in marginal sites across the Northeast.

Our neighbors to the north have been experimenting with willow hybrids for quite some time now.  Shrub willow is a short rotation woody crop and can produce large amounts of woody biomass through coppicing harvests that allow for repeated cuttings of wood from each shrub. The technology reflects 25 years of research and development spearheaded by the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry's willow biomass program.
See the Woody Biomass Program at SUNY-ESF.

The USDA Farm Service Agency has announced that it will continue to support NY farmers growing shrub willow as an energy crop through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).  Up to 3,500 total acres are approved for the shrub willow plantings in central and northern New York State.  These producers are eligible to receive establishment and annual payments to grow shrub willow for biomass conversion to bioenergy.

To read the full story go to: NY farmers encouraged to grow willow for fuel.
Bloomberg Businessweek, July 5, 2012.

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