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Southeast hosts the grand opening of biomass field at Sikeston campus

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dr. Mike Aide, chair of SEMO's ag department, holds up a stalk of Giant Miscanthus as he speaks. Jill Bock, Staff
SIKESTON -- Southeast Missouri may not only be the future home of biomass production and technology; it will also be the source for those versed in it.

Southeast Missouri State University's Department of Agriculture hosted a grand opening ceremony for its Biomass/Biofuels Research and Demonstration Field at Southeast's Sikeston campus Thursday morning. A $200,000 two-year grant from the Delta Regional Authority, the Missouri Research Corporation and the Missouri Department of Agriculture is funding the effort.

Mark Hitt with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, said the demonstration field is critical to the effort to develop biomass/biofuels research.

"This farm and the crops it produces will be vital to the development of the bioworks effort," Hitt said. He added the Missouri Department of Agriculture is looking forward to supporting the effort.

The Sikeston campus' 10-acre test plot currently is filled with soybeans and sweet sorghum, which will be harvested this fall. Sweet sorghum, said Dr. Mike Aide, chair of SEMO's Department of Agriculture, is typical of the alternative crops they will research.

Biomass is any plant material which can be converted into a fuel source or an alternative to chemicals in plastics, paints, carpets, adhesives, cosmetics, alcohol, pharmaceuticals and other products. He said the juices from the sorghum can be used to produce ethanol while the stalks can be ground into animal feed.

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