The N.C. Bioenergy Research Initiative recently awarded $500,000 in grants for six new research projects to boost bioenergy opportunities and production in the state, according to Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “We are excited to have the opportunity to explore bioenergy potential through these grants for North Carolina’s agricultural and forestry industries,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. Below is a list of grant recipients and projects:
$35,000 to the Institute of Forest Biotechnology for “Testing Biotech Poplars as a Biomass Feedstock.” This project seeks to improve biomass growth for affordable production of an efficient feedstock for bioenergy production. The study will evaluate two field trials in Oxford and at the Williamsdale Farm in Duplin County of poplar trees modified to enhance growth. $89,958 to N.C. State University’s Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources to study “Fertilization and Planting Densities to Maximize Populous Productivity.” This project will look at fast-growing, purpose-grown tree plantations, or short-rotation woody crops, to meet future woody biomass demands.
$97,500 to N.C. State’s Department of Horticultural Science for an “Optimizing Giant Reed as a Sustainable Bioenergy Crop” project. This project will further study the biomass yields of 24 different genotypes of giant reed to determine which may be most ideally suited for production in North Carolina based on high biomass yields. $96,500 to N.C. State’s Department of Crop Science for the project “Weed Management in/of Arundo and Miscanthus.” This project will evaluate herbicides to enable weed management for rapid establishment of arundo and miscanthus. It will also identify the most effective herbicide for eliminating these plantings. The study seeks to improve return on investment during the establishment period and also allow rapid conversion of arundo and miscanthus fields back to other land uses.
$99,934 to N.C. State’s Department of Soil Science for a project on “Production and Nutrient Dynamics of Bioenergy Crops on Swine Effluent Spray Fields in N.C.” This project will help determine the nutrient requirements and uptake of proposed biomass crops grown in the spray field environment. $81,108 to N.C. State’s Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources for the project, “Smoothing Biomass Feedstock Supply for Liquid Fuels Production.” This project will evaluate the costs and benefits of several storage systems for soft hardwoods and energy grasses that may be used in cellulosic ethanol technologies as alternatives to just-in-time delivery.
The N.C. Bioenergy Research Initiative is a program of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Its goal is to support the research and development of agricultural and forestry-based feedstocks for bioenergy production, agribusiness development and cooperative research for biofuels production. In 2013, the N.C. General Assembly approved funding for grants to stimulate energy production from N.C. agricultural and forest products. High consideration was given to projects that focused on crop production in both the field and forest that would provide feedstock for conversion into cellulosic ethanol.