Farmers Harvesting Biomass for Project LIBERTY

Joanna Schroeder

Farmers are now harvesting and delivering cob bales for the 2014 opening of Project LIBERTY in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Project LIBERTY is POET-DSM’s 20 million-gallon-per-year biorefinery currently under construction. When the facility begins production, it will use Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 3.23.47 PMcorn crop residue – cobs, leaves, husk and some stalk – as the primary feedstock to produce cellulosic ethanol.

With the 2013 harvest season already underway, growers have started delivering bales to the plant’s 22-acre stackyard. Although POET-DSM has organized four previous commercial-scale harvests in the past that have brought in nearly 200,00 tons of feedstock, this year’s bales will for the first time be used to produce cellulosic ethanol at the plant’s startup.

“Half of our biomass stackyard is filling up with cob bales for ethanol production,” Project LIBERTY General Manager Daron Wilson said. “Things are going smoothly. Our advance work over the last few years on feedstock logistics is paying off.”

Crop residue represents a new market for farmers that provides additional revenue with minimal input costs. It does not require any additional planting, and crop residue can be harvested with a standard baler. Nutrient replacement at POET-DSM’s suggested rate of removal – approximately 1 ton per acre or 25 percent of the above-ground biomass – is minimal.

“It’s been an easy way to diversify my farm operation and incorporate some much-needed crop residue management into the harvest,” said local farmer Charlie Kollasch. “This has been an important business opportunity for our area.”

POET-DSM intends to purchase approximately 100,000 tons from this year’s harvest to handle start-up and continuing operations through the 2014 harvest.

advance biofuels, Agribusiness, Cellulosic, Ethanol