Roadsides and median strips may turn out to be the perfect place to grow crops for biodiesel.
“It’s a very non-traditional approach to utilizing some public lands that are not being utilized as well as they could be,” says Utah State University researcher Dallas Hanks. It is estimated that there are some 10 million available acres of land in roadsides, airports, military bases, railroad areas and more that currently require significant maintenance cost that could be used for producing biofuel crops such as safflower and canola which could be harvested a couple times a year. The benefits include a new source for biofuel feedstocks, as well as improved aesthetics and reduced roadside maintenance costs.
“We’ve been lucky enough to get a national coalition with an executive committee and land grant universities all around the country involved in this,” Hanks said during a recent interview at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting annual meeting. “We are excited about their interest and we are excited to put some seeds in the ground.”
Other partners in the project include the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and New Holland Ag. “New Holland has been wonderful from the get-go on this,” said Hanks. “They were very gracious in giving us some equipment to help us with our research costs and further this project.” NBB has been the main source of funding for the project, for which Hanks says they are very grateful.
Some of the states already moving on the project include Tennessee, Michigan, North Carolina and Washington.