While biofuels development and production have been a bit different, some of the latest efforts to find room to grow non-food feedstocks for biofuels are being found alongside the beaten path. In this case, we’re talking about using areas, such as ditches and medians along the nation’s highways, as good spots to grow the raw materials to keep the cars and trucks running on those highways.
In an interview with the USDA, Michigan State University extension’s Dennis Pennington says those highway right-of-ways and airport grounds can be ideal places to grow biofuel feedstocks.
“I think there’s a number of options we could look at in terms of different kinds of crop.”
Pennington tells the USDA that which crops are best for these non-traditional areas depends on who the grower is and the local market. Right now, they’re looking at switch grass and three different oilseeds crops, chosen also for safety factors, such as wildlife mitigation and sight hazards.
It’s estimated that there’s 10 million acres of available land just alongside our roads that have good potential for growing biofuel feedstocks. Pennington adds that the best matches for areas where biomass for energy production should be grown would be where there is also a local biofuel from biomass production capability because of the high cost of shipping large quantities of biomass.