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Earth-friendly, renewable energy sources are right here in the Midwest

Biomass are things like grasses, waste-wood and corn stalks, which can be used as fuel to generate electricity.

biomass processingTest burns

We have a long history with biomass. Between 2000 and 2006, we conducted a series of switchgrass test burns at our Ottumwa Generating Station in Ottumwa, Iowa.

In 2010 and 2011, we successfully completed biomass test burns at the Nelson Dewey Generating Station in Cassville, Wisconsin. From those test burns, we learned a lot about environmental impacts, material delivery and handling costs, and how to blend and use biomass-based materials within an existing power plant.

Biomass studies

switchgrass fieldWe have helped fund three biomass demonstration plots in southwestern Wisconsin since 2008. These demonstration plots grow biomass sources such as switchgrass, miscanthus and forage sorghum. Researchers test variations of tillage, weed cover, herbicide treatment, fertilizer application and seed mix to learn how to maximize the yield of the biomass sources.

These studies have been very successful. Some test plots yielded no switchgrass in the first harvest year, but became fairly well established in the second and third years. We were able to harvest about three to three-and-a-half tons per acre of well-established switchgrass.

These projects were completed with the Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council and the University of Wisconsin Extension.