Perspectives Online

Bioenergy Field Day showcases biomass production, harvesting and processing

On Oct. 1, N.C. State University scientists showcased the latest developments in oilseed, sweet sorghum, industrial sweet potato and cellulosic biomass production, harvesting and on-farm processing – all at the 2009 Bioenergy Field Day. Held at the Williamsdale Farm Agricultural Extension and Research Facility in Wallace, the Bioenergy Field Day was presented by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at N.C. State. The Biofuels Center of North Carolina and the Duplin County Agribusiness Council were sponsors of the field day that was free and open to the public.

Among the event’s featured presentations were the operation of an internal combustion engine fueled by wood chips and the demonstration of a potato planter and digger used in the production of industrial sweet potatoes for ethanol.

Dr. Sylvia Blankenship, CALS interim director of the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service, presided at the event, which included remarks from Dr. Johnny Wynne, CALS dean; state Sen. Charles Albertson; Steven Burke, president and CEO, Biofuels Center of North Carolina; and Mac McNeill, director, University Field Laboratories at N.C. State .

Dr. Matt Veal of the CALS Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering presented the State of the N.C. State Bioenergy Research Program, and John Garner, superintendent at the Williamsdale Farm facility, presided over the afternoon’s presentations and demonstrations. These included:

  • Gasification Demonstration, Energy Pellets and Bio-Char, Drs. Mike Boyette and John Long, CALS Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and Jeff White, CALS Soil Science;
  • Cellulosic Biomass Production, Dr. Sue Ellen Johnson, CALS Crop Science, and Dr. Ron Gehl, CALS Soil Science;
  • Industrial Sweetpotatoes and Ethanol Fermentation, Drs. Nicholas George, Ken Pecota, and Craig Yencho, CALS Horticultural Science, and Drs. Mari Chinn and Nicole Hill, CALS Biological and Agricultural Engineering;
  • Canola Production/Biodiesel Production, Kim Tungate, N.C. Solar Center, and Dr. Matt Veal, CALS Biological and Agricultural Engineering;
  • On-Farm Sweet Sorghum Ethanol Pro¬duction and Low-Lignin Woody Fiber for Energy, Drs. Matt Veal and Larry Stikeleather, CALS Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and Drs. John King and Aletta Davis, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, N.C. State University.
The 611-acre Williamsdale Farm in Duplin County, now known as the Williamsdale Farm Agricultural Extension and Research Facility, was donated to N.C. State by sisters Frances Carr Parker of Kinston and Elea¬nor Carr Boyd of Charlotte, who inherited the land from their parents, Dr. and Mrs. Henry C. Carr. Parker and Boyd donated the farm to N.C. State in hopes that it would continue to be used for agriculture. The land had been in their family for 258 years and was originally granted by King George I. The farm is now managed by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and is part of the university field laboratory system. -- Suzanne Stanard