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Establishment of an Agricultural/Biofuel Feedstock Research Field Station in Rural South-Carolina

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Author(s): Florence ANORUO, | Mihail-Radu KANTOR | Camelia-Maria KANTOR

Journal: Journal of Settlements and Spatial Planning
ISSN 2069-3419

Volume: 1;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 103;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: alternative fuels | biofuel feedstock | rural development

ABSTRACT
Today’s worldwide growing interest in biofuels production, in obtaining higher biomass yields, and in providing cleaner liquid fuels for an affordable price could lead to results that might positively solve known present concerns related to global warming and decreasing petroleum fuel resources through the use of the natural rural landscapes. Grass biomass can be converted to bioenergy using technologies such as: conversion to liquid fuels (ethanol); combustion alone or in combination with fossil fuels to produce heat, steam, or electricity; and gasification. This paper presents our efforts in establishing an agricultural/biofuel feedstock research field station in the rural area of the Orangeburg County, South Carolina, geared towards establishing, equipping, and staffing mass production of biofuel feedstock. Since there is a growing interest in using perennial grasses as renewable fuels for generating electricity and for producing bio-ethanol, four crops (Sugarcane, Miscanthus, Sorghum, Sudan grass) have been selected for use in biomass production. All these crops are going to be harvested in two different fields: the organic field (environmental sustainability/organic farming) and the non-organic field. Each field has approximately 15 acres (60702.85 m2) while the experimental design used for the data collection is going to be the Randomized Complete Block Design. So far, the first step in the crops establishment was to take soil samples for scientific analysis which were sent to Palmetto Agri-Services, York, SC. The plot was mapped out using a GPS program and 40 soil samples holes were collected from each field. Our project’s mission is to identify the most suitable crop for the local climate and soil while advancing knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and the well being of rural communities. Biofuel production from these four crops might be extended to other agricultural areas, namely rural areas in countries like Romania and other developing countries where there is a large number of non utilized agricultural fields as well as access to European funds and relatively cheap labour. It might constitute an innovative way of revitalizing and developing remote rural areas.
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