a different plant, a different fuel

By Darren Orf

Traveling Interstate 29 in Atchison County, with rolling highlands and flat floodplain, is a picturesque yet common snapshot of Missouri agriculture. But one crop, a small 3-by-3 meter plot, stands out from the rest. Although the plant is a strange sight, it’s a possible future for ethanol production.

At Graves-Chapple Research Center, an agricultural research plot visible off I-29, thin, nine-foot-tall Miscanthus towers above the neighboring corn and soybean plots. Jim Crawford, superintendent with MU extension, sees these tall grasses as a future for ethanol, though problems remain.

“It all depends on economics,” Crawford says. Transport costs currently make Miscanthus, a Japanese grass hybrid, an unrealistic option for local farmers. Because of quick combustion and easy management, Miscanthus is a crop for the future—a future that Crawford is eagerly anticipating.

“We’re trying to look down the road,” Crawford says. “We’re trying to get answers for the questions that will come.”

Photo By Darren Orf. Jim Crawford explains about the complexities of various crops on the Graves-Chapple Research Center

—Edited by Teresa Avila

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2 responses to “a different plant, a different fuel

  1. This is a good topic and the piece is very interesting. I was a little confused though because the photo appears to be soybeans. So as a reader, I might have thought the story was going to be about soybeans…rather than concentrating on micanthus. A little different cutline would help explain if a photo wasn’t available to go with the headline and lede.

  2. Sorry… I meant miscanthus 🙂

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