From a news release issued by the Southwest Badger RC&D Council and Better Environmental Solutions:

Richland Center–With Governor Doyle’s recent announcement of a new biomass boiler at the UW Madison Charter Street Power Plant to use 250,000 tons of biomass annually, southern Wisconsin has become a prime target for biomass production. Two other proposed plants will use a combined 800,000 tons of biomass per year in Cassville, WI and just across the border in Carroll County, Illinois. Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council, Inc. is holding a biomass briefing on March 6, 2009 in Richland Center.

“Southwest Wisconsin is the Saudi Arabia of biomass such as wood, switchgrass, and corn stover. The challenge is harvesting it sustainably,” said Steve Bertjens, NRCS Coordinator for Southwest Badger RC&D Council. The briefing will provide interim reports on 3 current SW Badger projects– the Biomass Inventory and Analysis Project, Switchgrass Establishment and Harvesting Demonstrations, and the True Costs of Harvesting Woody Biomass in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin.

The SW Badger Biomass Briefing is free to the public and will be held at the Ramada White House, 1450 Veterans Drive, Richland Center, WI from 1-3:30 p.m. on Friday March 6th.

Brett Hulsey, president of Better Environmental Solutions, said, “This Biomass Briefing will answer questions like, ‘Where will a million tons of biomass per year come from?’ and ‘Is biomass production and use a sustainable renewable energy source?’.” Hulsey will also be presenting yield data collected from warm season fields currently enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

University of Wisconsin Extension Weed Specialist Mark Renz will present the first year results from the “Switchgrass Establishment and Harvesting Demonstrations.” This project is working to quantify achievable yields and develop best practices for growing switchgrass. Last spring the Council established 62 acres of warm season grass plantings on six farms using a variety of establishment treatments on each farm. Renz and his research students are collecting field data on the demonstrations like establishment success, yield per treatment, above and below ground production, carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas flux.