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Farming That Improves the Environment
Ascribe ^ | Mon Nov 7 13:14:01 2005 Pacific Time | Randy Killorn

Posted on 11/07/2005 3:18:31 PM PST by GreenFreeper

AMES, Iowa, Nov. 7 (AScribe Newswire) -- All those dried up stalks, husks and cobs left in corn fields after every fall's harvest could be a key to enhancing the environment, say Iowa State University researchers.

They say partially burning some of the residue left in corn fields produces products that can be used to improve soil fertility, boost in-soil storage of greenhouse gases and reduce the amount of natural gas used to produce anhydrous ammonia fertilizer.

Robert C. Brown, Iowa State's Bergles Professor in Thermal Science, will lead a team of researchers studying the idea. The team includes Randy Killorn, an Iowa State professor of soil science, plus government researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Energy and industry researchers from Cargill Inc., Eprida and iPrismGlobal.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns recently announced the three-year project will be supported by $1.85 million from the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, a joint project of the U.S. agriculture and energy departments. More than 670 research teams applied for initiative funding. Eleven of them won grants. Final details of the grants are expected to be set by early next year.

"This cooperative conservation partnership benefits our nation with enhanced energy security, a cleaner environment and revitalized rural economies," Johanns said in the statement announcing the grants. "The selected projects support President Bush's goal to enhance renewable energy supplies. The grants will help to develop additional renewable energy resources and expand markets for agricultural products."

Brown's research team will focus on this process:

Corn stover will be harvested from fields and partially burned to create charcoal and a bio-oil about as thick as motor oil. The bio-oil will be reacted with steam to produce hydrogen. That hydrogen will replace the natural gas typically burned to make anhydrous ammonia fertilizer. The fertilizer and charcoal will be incorporated into the soil.

Brown said there should be three significant results: Farmers producing their own renewable energy to manufacture fertilizer for their fields. Farming that improves soils because the added charcoal supports soil organisms. And the charcoal sequestering carbon in the soil, thus reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Brown estimates a 640-acre farm could sequester the equivalent of 1,800 tons of carbon dioxide in the soil. That's the annual emissions created by about 340 cars.

Brown uses the phrase reinventing agriculture when he talks about the process.

"The conventional goal of good land stewardship is to minimize soil degradation and the amount of carbon released from the soil," he said. "This new approach to agriculture has the goal of actually improving soils."

He said the practice of improving soil by adding charcoal has been traced back to the Amazon basin in the days before Christopher Columbus. People there created dark and productive soils (know as "terra preta," or "dark earth" soils) by adding charcoal mixed with manure. Those soils are still more productive than surrounding soils that weren't treated with charcoal.

Killorn, who will study soil fertility as part of the research project, said putting corn stover to work for the environment shows a lot of potential.

"It looks pretty slick, taking these corn stalks and turning them into bio-oil and charcoal," he said. "If everything works the way we think it will, this looks like a good deal."

- - - -

CONTACTS: Robert C. Brown, ISU Mechanical Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, 515-294-7934

Randy Killorn, ISU Agronomy, 515-294-3433

Mike Krapfl, ISU News Service, 515-294-4917


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: ecology; ecoping; environment; farming; farms
want not waste not!
1 posted on 11/07/2005 3:18:33 PM PST by GreenFreeper
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To: blam; Carry_Okie; Chanticleer; ClearCase_guy; cogitator; CollegeRepublican; ...
ECO-PING

Conservative Conservation

FReepmail me to be added or removed to the ECO-PING list!

2 posted on 11/07/2005 3:19:27 PM PST by GreenFreeper (Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress)
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To: ButThreeLeftsDo; Iowa Granny; Ladysmith; Diana in Wisconsin; JLO; sergeantdave; damncat; ...
If you'd like to be on or off this Upper Midwest (WI, IA, MN, MI, and pretty much anyone else interested) list, largely rural and outdoors issues, please FR mail me. And ping me is you see articles of interest.
3 posted on 11/07/2005 3:20:14 PM PST by SJackson (God isn`t dead. We just can`t talk to Him in the classroom anymore, R Reagan.)
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To: GreenFreeper

Corn. Nature's Most Perfect Food. Right after Beer, of course! ;)


4 posted on 11/07/2005 3:22:38 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
Corn. Nature's Most Perfect Food. Right after Beer, of course! ;)

I need to put a beer garden in my backyard!

5 posted on 11/07/2005 3:28:13 PM PST by GreenFreeper (Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress)
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To: GreenFreeper; SJackson

Interesting article, thanks for the ping SJ.

Right off the top of my head I'm wondering if this won't also reduce the amount of Nitrate in the soil. Decaying organic matter produces Nitrate, does it not?

It will be hard to teach some of us Old Timers (myself included) New Methods. I've always thought we should take nothing from the land which isn't necessary. We have neighbors who bale corn stalks. We don't. I want those corn stalks to decay and replentish the soil.

Green, if you see more articles about this, please ping me to them.


6 posted on 11/07/2005 3:31:54 PM PST by Iowa Granny
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To: GreenFreeper

Go for it. I grow my own hopps. If I had more acreage I'd plant barley, too! :)

Can you add me to your Ping List, please? I, too, am a conservative, green Freeper. I confuse many who think the two can't survive together in the same body. *Rolleyes*


7 posted on 11/07/2005 3:32:24 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
Corn. Nature's Most Perfect Food.

Late August . . . fresh butter . . . a salt shaker . . . and a dozen ears. Later on, a niblet stuck between my teeth and melted butter running down my chin. Heaven on earth.

8 posted on 11/07/2005 3:34:18 PM PST by WIladyconservative (Save us from future Freepathons - set up a monthly donation!)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

Another Hops grower!

It was a great year for hops!


9 posted on 11/07/2005 3:35:13 PM PST by WIladyconservative (Save us from future Freepathons - set up a monthly donation!)
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To: GreenFreeper; Diana in Wisconsin; Iowa Granny

Hooray - looks like I found some like-minded folks; I'm so happy! Will you please add me to your list too, Green? Thank you.


10 posted on 11/07/2005 3:38:31 PM PST by Borax Queen
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To: GreenFreeper

While they are at it, why not be sensible and return to burning lawns in the autumn. Furtermore, kids love it.


11 posted on 11/07/2005 3:39:13 PM PST by billhilly (If you're lurking here from DU (Democrats unglued), I trust this post will make you sick.)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin; GreenFreeper
You can have them both. No, I don't know what it tastes like.


12 posted on 11/07/2005 3:39:49 PM PST by SJackson (God isn`t dead. We just can`t talk to Him in the classroom anymore, R Reagan.)
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To: GreenFreeper
Anything is possible with enough tax money thrown at it...
13 posted on 11/07/2005 3:40:27 PM PST by tubebender (Chris Matthews suffers from "IRRATIONAL EXUBERANCE"...)
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To: WIladyconservative

No kidding! I had 500 acres of Sweet Corn around me this season. I've been flirting my head off with the guy in charge for the past few seasons and he always stops by to tell me when they'll be harvesting and to get out there and pick all I can carry.

"He don't know me very well, do he?" ~ Bugs Bunny

Forty quarts canned, and fresh Sweet Corn every day for weeks into September. ;)

I think hopps are just so pretty! I used to work for The Seed Savers Exchange in Madison and there was a 'Wine & Hopps Shop' next door, so the man who ran that swapped a few hopps plants with me for some eggs...and the rest is history. They grow on the south side of my barn, and are happy as clams. I barter with my BIL and he uses them in his home brewed Raspberry Beer. Now THAT is some yummy beer!


14 posted on 11/07/2005 3:43:06 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
MMMmmmmm cornnuts and beer.
15 posted on 11/07/2005 3:43:47 PM PST by fish hawk (I am only one, but I am not the only one.)
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To: SJackson

LOL! If you're buying, I'm up for a taste test. ;)


16 posted on 11/07/2005 3:44:21 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

your added!


17 posted on 11/07/2005 3:44:49 PM PST by GreenFreeper (Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress)
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To: billhilly
While they are at it, why not be sensible and return to burning lawns in the autumn

Not likely the EPA would allow that. Air Quality regulations would probably prevent it.

The Sierra Club would go nuts if we burnt off all the corn and soybean fields in Iowa.

18 posted on 11/07/2005 3:44:52 PM PST by Iowa Granny
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To: GreenFreeper

Thanks! I look forward to some great discussions. :)


19 posted on 11/07/2005 3:45:24 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: tubebender

Now, now. No p*ssin' in our corn field, Buddy. ;)


20 posted on 11/07/2005 3:46:43 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: GreenFreeper

Please add me to the list as well!

Thanks!


21 posted on 11/07/2005 3:47:42 PM PST by Toirdhealbheach Beucail (Am fear nach gheibh na h-airm 'n am na sith, cha bith iad aige 'nam a chogaidh)
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To: fish hawk

I'm more a Bavarian Pretzels and Beer kind of gal. Tap the extra salt into your beer. ;)


22 posted on 11/07/2005 3:47:54 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

Is corn really food? I mean, doesn't it have to get digested to be called food?


23 posted on 11/07/2005 3:48:26 PM PST by Ethan_Allen1777
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To: Borax Queen

added!


24 posted on 11/07/2005 3:50:16 PM PST by GreenFreeper (Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress)
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To: Ethan_Allen1777

I have that same problem with green peas. Thanks for sharing, LOL! :)


25 posted on 11/07/2005 3:51:06 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: GreenFreeper

Thank you! I was starting to feel like a mutant freakshow around FR. Conservation and preservation were always conservative values... until recent years when things became so partisan, but it shouldn't have to be that way.


26 posted on 11/07/2005 3:52:30 PM PST by Borax Queen
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To: Iowa Granny

You are right, of course; however burning has historically been a tool of successful land management. Judging from your name, I'll bet you had a great time smelling the leaves and grass as they burned, and realizing as well that weed seeds were being destroyed as well.


27 posted on 11/07/2005 3:53:25 PM PST by billhilly (If you're lurking here from DU (Democrats unglued), I trust this post will make you sick.)
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To: Borax Queen

My sentiments exactly!


28 posted on 11/07/2005 3:56:31 PM PST by Chanticleer (A free society is a place where it's safe to be unpopular. -- Adlai Stevenson)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin; Iowa Granny; Borax Queen; Toirdhealbheach Beucail
The reactionary criticism of anything 'green' bugs me but there are more and more conservatives taking back conservation. Those liberals hijackers!

ok this is how has been added to the list... am I missing anyone?

29 posted on 11/07/2005 3:56:56 PM PST by GreenFreeper (Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress)
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To: Chanticleer

:)


30 posted on 11/07/2005 3:57:42 PM PST by Borax Queen
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To: Ethan_Allen1777

Are you talking human or goose?


31 posted on 11/07/2005 3:57:59 PM PST by fish hawk (I am only one, but I am not the only one.)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
Now, now. No p*ssin' in our corn field, Buddy. ;)

Hmmmm...I didn't think anyone saw me

32 posted on 11/07/2005 3:59:27 PM PST by tubebender (Chris Matthews suffers from "IRRATIONAL EXUBERANCE"...)
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To: fish hawk

Hey buddy....I'm still waiting for my smoked salmon.

We canned a 25# tuna last week and have one more in the freezer...


33 posted on 11/07/2005 4:04:13 PM PST by tubebender (Chris Matthews suffers from "IRRATIONAL EXUBERANCE"...)
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To: Iowa Granny
After grass seed was harvested from thousands of acres between Salem and Portland they were regularly burned off for decades. The enviros only allow a few hundred acres to be burnt now and then, as far as I know.

Nam Vet

34 posted on 11/07/2005 4:05:31 PM PST by Nam Vet (The Gaulistinians are rioting to reclaim the ancient 'holy ground' of Paris.)
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To: Chanticleer

Love your Freeper name. I'm assuming you're familiar with the book by Victor Thomas Salupo?

Oops! You spell it differently. "Chantecler" is the book I'm referring to.

"Chanticleer" is a singing group, non?


35 posted on 11/07/2005 4:06:07 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: tubebender
I brought salmon home to smoke but you have to come here to try it. I brought home several jars of home-canned tuna also that my sister canned. MMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmm. Canned smoke salmon too. Aloha
36 posted on 11/07/2005 4:10:19 PM PST by fish hawk (I am only one, but I am not the only one.)
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To: WIladyconservative

Ya gotta hit Loyal 'Corn Daze' in Sept.
now that's eatin'...


37 posted on 11/07/2005 4:13:48 PM PST by joesnuffy
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To: GreenFreeper

Thanks for ping. Interesting manufactoring process. Win/win scenario.


38 posted on 11/07/2005 4:16:23 PM PST by Marine_Uncle (Honor must be earned)
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To: Nam Vet

I have friends who grow grass seed in the Wyomette (sp?) Valley. I remember when they were fighting the efforts to stop them from burning off their fields.


39 posted on 11/07/2005 4:16:32 PM PST by Iowa Granny
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To: Ethan_Allen1777
Is corn really food? I mean, doesn't it have to get digested to be called food?

You are kidding, aren't you? You surely don't want Granny to get out her recipe box, do you?

40 posted on 11/07/2005 4:17:42 PM PST by Iowa Granny
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To: GreenFreeper
The reactionary criticism of anything 'green' bugs me

Well farmers were the original Conservationist, you know. It wasn't until the crazies started trying to stop us from growing anything but weeds that we started getting defensive.

41 posted on 11/07/2005 4:19:46 PM PST by Iowa Granny
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

Perhaps. Chanticleer was a rooster in a story by Geoffrey Chaucer -- The Nun's Priest's Tale.

It isn't really very fitting, as I am not a rooster but a hen, but our family symbol is the rooster, and I do so like the name.


42 posted on 11/07/2005 4:22:17 PM PST by Chanticleer (A free society is a place where it's safe to be unpopular. -- Adlai Stevenson)
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To: Chanticleer

"...and I do so like the name."

It is very pretty. :) I raise laying hens, though only a few end up with names if they have obvious personalities, or ended up bonded to me for some reason during the rearing process.

My rooster is "Rooster Cogburn" after John Wayne. ;)


43 posted on 11/07/2005 4:26:38 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: billhilly
wever burning has historically been a tool of successful land management.

The modern American farmer is now employing slash and burn techniques! ;-)

44 posted on 11/07/2005 4:29:15 PM PST by glorgau
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To: billhilly
however burning has historically been a tool of successful land management.

They burn off the the grasslands in western NoDak every spring.

This year, while in Central Kansas over the fourth of July weekend, I saw some farmers burning off their wheat stubble. First time I ever saw anything like that. You could watch clouds form over the fields, in a distance, from the heat

45 posted on 11/07/2005 4:36:13 PM PST by woofer (Eagles may soar - but weasels don't get sucked into a jet's engines)
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To: woofer

The farmers in my neck of the woods burned their plant beds thoroughly before putting the seed in. They then covered the beds with a white cloth (looked like cheese cloth) to prevent windblown seed from contaminating the beds.

It seemed to work pretty well. Of course, I'm remembering a long time ago and a long way away.


46 posted on 11/07/2005 4:53:40 PM PST by billhilly (If you're lurking here from DU (Democrats unglued), I trust this post will make you sick.)
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To: Iowa Granny
Willamette Valley. It was a battle, but in the end the libs won in Oregon. Our own socialist state and I have to live here. (for now)

Nam Vet

47 posted on 11/07/2005 5:12:04 PM PST by Nam Vet (The Gaulistinians are rioting to reclaim the ancient 'holy ground' of Paris.)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

You can make bourbon out of it, if you live in KY.

Anything else is just whiskey.


48 posted on 11/07/2005 5:14:13 PM PST by TASMANIANRED (Conservatives are from earth. Liberals are from Uranus.)
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To: GreenFreeper

this has some promise. save oil and natural gas, grow more - the American farmer can be very productive.


49 posted on 11/07/2005 7:39:49 PM PST by q_an_a
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

Our kids hatched chicks for a 4-H project, and it was great fun. Unfortunately, our suburban neighborhood frowns on livestock, so we had to send them to the home of a friend who keeps chickens. :-(


50 posted on 11/08/2005 8:14:36 AM PST by Chanticleer (A free society is a place where it's safe to be unpopular. -- Adlai Stevenson)
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