by KRISTIAN PARTINGTON
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada will invest $2.4 million into researching the economic viability of growing biomass crops for energy production.
“The world is changing and it’s important that we change with it,” said Barry Devolin, MP representing Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock. He announced the funding Tuesday at an evening reception hosted by Ontario’s Agricultural Adaptation Council. “The research will help Ontario agriculture lead the way to an entirely new family of crops, a new stable market and a new industry for purpose grown crops.”
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture will lead the project, to run until October 2013, in partnership with the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association. Research will focus on assessing the growth, storage and aggregation of crops such as switchgrass, big bluestem, miscanthus and prairie mix for use in energy generation.
“Our hope is to study the agronomic aspects of these purpose-grown field crops,” said David Armitage, a manger of policy research with the federation. The study will also explore engineering practices for transforming crops into energy and examine practices in other jurisdictions around the world through extensive literature readings.
Armitage said the federation and Ontario Soil and Crop began seeking farms to take part in the study this month. “We’ve had three information meetings earlier this month and we requested or encouraged farmers to submit expressions of interest and we’ve had a number of those.”
The goal is to have 900 acres of perennial crops through the course of the study. At this point, about 450 acres have been identified.
The federation will announce another opportunity for expressions of interest in August or September. BF