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December 14, 2006



1.8 tons per year per acre? Excellent, finally someone has done this research.

It looks like the total US CO2 emissions of around 6,000 million tons could be mopped up by a Prairie National Park (doubling as a huge wind farm and bison habitat) of around 4000 square miles. The equivalent of a square that is 200 miles on a side.

Spread this area around the states of Montana, North and South Dakota, and a few other great plains states and it would fit easily. Beef farmers going out of business on the plains due to drought caused by global climate change could instead get commercial bison hunting quotas.

Tourism, bison production, wind farm manufacturing and maintenance, could revive these regions hit hard by the failing drought stricken farm economy.

I would rely on the wind farms instead of harvesting prairie plants for energy though. Those plants are more useful for cO2 sequestration and natural habitat.


I'm big on prairie grasses. They have a great energy balance and appear to be low-impact on the local ecosystem, compared to any other biofuel. Call me a hippie, but I'd love to combine a grass farm with recreational trails- kinda like this place. Farming, trails, ice cream- what's not to like?


Excellent BCC! How about some sod houses for tourists? Or native acomodations? Live like they did when the prairie was alive with the thundering bison.

Bike trails through the 12 foot grasses would be great too. And it would increase wildlife numbers beyond belief.

The lakes and rivers that are left could be surrounded by conservation land. This would also stave off a dustbowl from the drought combined with the soil devestation of agribizz farming.


"if converted to synthetic fuels by the right means" all the way at the end of the article.

That "right means" doesn't exist yet.



Note that this is on marginal land.  Corn yields average about 4.2 tons of grain alone per acre on good land, and peak much higher.  Potential yield of stover is another 2.5 tons average.

Comparison of the yield on matched plots would be very valuable.  UIUC has produced up to 60 metric tons/hectare (25-odd tons per acre) using Miscanthus, so corn does have serious competition even on good land.

david foster

I didn't see anything about the specific process being stated for conversion of the grasses into fuel, and don't understand how the numbers could be quoted with such specificity in the absence of such assumptions.

Also, it's extremely irritating that universities frequently issue press releases on research but provide no way to get the actual paper without paying for it. In the case of research involving government funds, particularly on matters of general public interest, I think this is really inappropriate.



Would you prefer they not issue the press release? In most cases, researchers must cede copyright over their papers to the publisher in order to get it published.

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Tilman's team grew plots mixing 16 types of prairie grasses, including lupine, turkey foot, blazing star, and prairie clover. The plots with the most varieties produced the most biomass.



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anything about the specific process being stated for conversion of the grasses into fuel, and don't understand how the numbers could be

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