Penn State energy-crops field display is now open to visitors

University Park, Pa. -- The Penn State energy-crops field display, created by Penn State Farm Services, is now open to visitors on land across from the old armory building on Fox Hollow Road, showing a variety of energy crops in production.
 
A brochure describing the various crops being grown, is available on the Web at http://downloads.cas.psu.edu/RenewableEnergy/events08/EnergyCropsFieldDisplay2009.pdf. The Web site also offers a diagram of the field display site. Visitors are asked to walk only along the edges of the fields and to be careful of any farming operations that may be occurring in the area.
 
The display provides educational information on a number of bioenergy crops that the University is testing as possible options for farmers in the area, according to Daniel Ciolkosz, senior extension associate in agricultural and biological engineering.

"A variety of biomass and oilseed crops are being grown," he said. "The biomass crops are suitable for combustion as well as cellulosic ethanol production, while the oilseed crops are particularly useful for biodiesel fuel production."

 
Penn State has plans to produce biodiesel that will be used in the university's fleet vehicles. The display area includes both an informational brochure and signs at each crop and is open to visitors during daylight hours. The site is most notable right now for the field of sunflowers in bloom, but don't let the beauty fool you, Ciolkosz said. The energy-crops field display presents a dynamic view of field-scale production of energy crops in Pennsylvania. The potential for agricultural crops providing bioenergy for Pennsylvania farmers and society is enormous.
 
"The display is intended to meet several objectives," Ciolkosz said. "The first is education. Farmers and interested persons can see the crops as they would be grown in Pennsylvania and learn about the potential for these crops to be part of the state’s bioenergy industry. The second objective is research. The crop displays are used to investigate the actual performance of these crops for energy production. Some of the crops are very new to the area and little is known about their performance under Pennsylvania conditions or the appropriate use of equipment and cultural methods to grow the crops optimally."
 
Farm Services intends to test the amount of bioenergy yielded by each crop to meet campus needs, Ciolkosz said. The University is interested in growing oilseed crops to be transformed into biodiesel to feed Penn State's new pilot-scale bioenergy plant.
 
"The field display allows for objective assessment to determine which crops and growing systems will fit best with the University’s needs," he said. "The energy crops field display changes every year. Annual crops are rotated, new crops are introduced and perennial crops develop and mature."
 
This year’s display includes 11 different crops, including some that are unusual in this area. Crops include Atlantic coastal panic grass, camelina, canola, flax, forage sorghum, safflower, sorghum-Sudan grass, Sudan grass, sunflower, sweet stem sorghum and switchgrass.
 
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Last Updated May 18, 2012