1217 Committee updated on Eastern Sprayfields Project (30 June 2011)

Progress on the Eastern Sprayfields Project was presented on Thursday, 30 June 2011 at a meeting of the 1217 Interagency Committee, which regulates animal waste management rules for the state. The Eastern Sprayfields project is an initiative of the Biofuels Center to establish energy grasses in the southeastern part of the state on hog lagoon sprayfields and verify the economic opportunities for biofuels. New energy grasses are being grown at three sites in three eastern North Carolina counties: Duplin, Sampson, and Wayne.

The Prestage Farms site (the Keener Farm near Clinton) and the Maxwell Foods site (near Goldsboro) are being prepared for perennial grasses in the fall or spring 2012. Both sites have been growing Coastal Bermuda grass for many years, which must be eliminated before perennial grasses can be planted. This week, forage sorghum was no-till planted into the existing sod. The shading from the tall sorghum should assist in eliminating the Bermuda grass. Depending on the success in eradicating the Bermuda grass, the perennial grasses will be planted either this fall or next spring. Very little research has been conducted to test and evaluate fall plantings, so a risk-benefit analysis will be conducted to determine the best time to plant the perennial grasses.

In May and June 2011, the Cottle Farm near Kenansville (the Murphy-Brown site) was planted with Sweet Sorghum, Forage Sorghum, Switchgrass, Giant Miscanthus, and Coastal Bermuda grass. The crops are being subjected to the same nutrient application practices that are typical for Coastal Bermuda grass used on hog lagoon sprayfields. Both sweet and forage sorghum plots are doing well. The switchgrass transplants are also doing well. The transplants were moved from a hot tobacco float greenhouse directly to the fields. Due to a delay in planting, the heat and drought presented problems for the Giant Miscanthus. The transplants were kept in cold storage until the fields dried from rain, and were then planted in high heat. The resulting transplant shock caused an unusually low survival rate for the Miscanthus. Previous plantings of Miscanthus in the past three years have seen at least an 80-percent survival rate for transplants.

Read more about the Eastern Sprayfields project HERE.

Grants management meeting (30 June 2011)

On 30 June 2011, the Biofuels Center of North Carolina held a grants management meeting with the recipients of the 2010-2011 Statewide Biofuels Development Grants program. The program awards grants to non-profit organizations and academic institutions across the state to help develop the biofuels sector. For its 2011 funding cycle, the Center identified specific priorities in the focused area of commercialization. Twenty-four grantees attended the meeting, which focused on the fiscal responsibilities and procedures of the grants program such as reporting, funding disbursement, contracts, and site visits. Now that the contracts have been fully executed, the grantees can begin the work of their projects. Read more about the 2011 grantees HERE.

Biofuels Center at the NC Coastal Federation Energy Summit (24 June 2011)

The Biofuels Center of North Carolina attended the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s Energy Summit on Friday, 24 June 2011 in New Bern, N.C. The event featured panels on biomass, wind, solar, and energy policy. Sam Brake, Director of Farming at the Biofuels Center, participated in the panel on biomass, "Homegrown Energy."

During the Summit, the federation released their annual State of the Coast Report, which focused this year on renewable energy on the N.C. Coast.

"Annual State of the Coast looks at alternative energy sources," an article in the New Bern Sun Journal on the Energy Summit

Biofuels Campus Plan Stakeholders' Feedback Sessions

North Carolina's Biofuels Campus plan is a little closer to completion.  The Biofuels Center, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and design firm OBrienAtkins have held three sessions requesting feedback on the latest draft of the Biofuels Campus Master Plan.  The sessions were held at the Biofuels Center in Oxford on 10 June, at OBrienAtkins offices' on 14 June and at the NCDA's office in downtown Raleigh on 20 June 2011.  Economic developers, town and county officials, NC State researchers, NCDA staff, Biofuels Center staff, industry representatives and other interested parties attended the meetings.  Feedback about the plan, which presents a framework for development of the Campus over the next decade, was uniformly positive.  Suggestions made at the meetings are being incorporated into the drawings and plan for presentation to the working group.   

New E85 Filling Dispenser Opens in Magnolia, NC

magnoliaCaption: Steven Burke, President and CEO of the Biofuels Center of North Carolina (left) and owner Lounell Mainor (right in white) at the opening of a new E85 fueling dispenser in Magnolia, NC.

A ribbon-cutting event took place on 11 June 2011 at Magnolia Marketplace, located in Magnolia, N.C., to celebrate the opening of a public E85 fueling dispenser. Magnolia Marketplace is a gas station, convenience store, and restaurant that has one of the 16 public E85 dispensers in the state. The E85 station at Magnolia Marketplace is the first to open under the Carolina Blue Skies and Green Jobs Initiative, made possible, in part with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Energy through the Triangle Clean Cities Coalition.

The event featured Ms. Lounell Mainor, owner of Magnolia Marketplace, hosting the official ribbon cutting. The event was attended by townspeople and local dignitaries and addressed by town and county officials, Center President and CEO Steven Burke and Howard Isley, Assistant Commissioner for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, among others.  A common theme in the speeches was the importance of a domestically produced fuel for both the economy and the environment.