Pioneer in bioenergy crop research to share knowledge in New Zealand

17 November 2009

Landowners considering the potential of deriving new income from dedicated bioenergy crops have the opportunity to learn first hand from a leading international expert next month.

Dr Emily Heaton, Assistant Professor of Agronomy at Iowa State University in the United States, will be sharing her research and experiences at a conference organised by the International Energy Agency (IEA) Task 30 in December.

“Bioenergy: Linking Biomass and Technology" will provide an overview of current knowledge in the area of short rotation crops (SRC) - such as grasses, willows, poplar and eucalypts - grown specifically for bioenergy.

Dr Heaton has pioneered and led research in the United States comparing the biomass production of Miscanthus and switchgrass, research that indicated Miscanthus could produce 250% more ethanol than corn, without requiring additional land.

Dr Heaton previously worked for Ceres - a plant genetics company in California specialising in biomass crop breeding for fuel. While there, she led the development of the largest dedicated biofuels variety evaluation network in the United States.

Dr Heaton’s research focuses on best management practices for perennial energy crops, and their potential for ameliorating global climate change through carbon offset and sequestration.

Conference organiser Ian Nicholas from Crown Research Institute Scion says this topic will be of particular interest to landowners and managers with underutilised land who have an interest in bioenergy feedstocks.

He says short rotation crops have the potential to offer new revenue streams for areas otherwise unsuitable for livestock. SRCs also offer short timescales between planting and harvesting.

The conference is being held from 2 to 4 December at the Huka Falls Resort, Taupo. The event includes a field trip to existing short rotation crop sites in the Taupo region, being managed as part of a Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Sustainable Farming Fund research project.

For details on how to register for this event, visit www.shortrotationcrops.org or contact Lesley Caudwell on 07 343 5846 or email Lesley.Caudwell@scionresearch.com.

The event is proudly supported by Scion and renewable resources company Pure Power Global.