See our related magazine Canadian Biomass

The Cellulosic Sugar Producers Co-operative (CSPC) and its partners have almost finished putting all the pieces in place for a southern Ontario value chain to turn crop residues into sugars. Those pieces include a feasibility study, a technical-economic assessment and a collaboratively developed business plan. Some important steps still have to be completed, but they are aiming for processing to start in 2018.
The president of a new farm co-op says it's working to sign up 200 to 300 members to supply corn stalks and leaves, also known as stover, as well as wheat stalks, to a proposed new plant in Sarnia, Ont., that will turn the biomass into sugar. The Sarnia Observer reports. | READ MORE

Nobody is more familiar with the fight against weed pressure than organic farmers, but one weed control strategy that works in organic settings might be just as beneficial for conventional growers, according to a Laval University researcher. The secret is mulch.

Caroline Halde, a professor in the department of plant science at Laval University in Quebec, says cover cropping for weed control is a proven strategy in organic studies. But she’s also had plenty of interest from conventional no-till growers in the use of cover cropping.

“I’ve had no-till farmers come to me who are working with cover crops more and more, and now they are ‘almost organic’ because they use very little inputs in their cropping systems,” she says. “And now they want to make the switch because they’re almost organic but don’t get the premium.”

But mulch-based weed control takes cover cropping one step further. In year one, a cover crop is planted as green manure. In year two, a cash crop is planted directly into the mulch, with the mulch serving as the grower’s only form of weed control.

Halde, working under the supervision of Martin Entz, a professor of plant sciences at the University of Manitoba, completed a study investigating the use of mulches in an organic high-residue reduced tillage system near Carman, Man., in 2013. In the study, barley, hairy vetch, oilseed radish, sunflower and pea were used as cover crops, then planted with wheat.

The best cover crop for weed control and cash crop yield was hairy vetch or a barley-hairy vetch mixture.

“Green manure mulches with hairy vetch were effective at reducing weed biomass by 50 per cent to 90 per cent in the no-till spring wheat in 2011 and 2012, compared to other mulches,” Halde concluded.

The method is not a magic bullet. Halde says high cover crop biomass is key to achieving good mulch that will effectively choke out weeds the following year.

“First, you have to have a good establishment of your cover crop – that’s rule number one,” she says. Poor or excessively wet weather in the spring might hamper cover crop growth. “And another thing is to choose fields that have low weed seed banks, or at least for some particular weeds, particularly wild oats.” In Halde’s study, wild oats and perennial weeds, such as dandelion and Canada thistle, made for challenging conditions.

Halde’s study relied on removing a field from production for one full year each cycle, but she says the payoffs can be rewarding. In Western Canada, the benefits of such a system involve water conservation as well as weed control. In Eastern Canada, removing herbicides from a field for a year would also be a major boon for growers nervous about herbicide resistance. “That would be a great advantage, because we see more and more herbicide-resistant weeds in Eastern Canada,” she says.

But Halde is currently seeking funding for a study in Eastern Canada on the use of fall cover crops used as mulch in the spring and planted with short-season cash crops – a system which would keep fields in production, so growers do not have to lose a year each cycle.

Biomass is key
Carolyn Marshall, a PhD student at Dalhousie University, is currently studying the impacts of no-till green manure management on soil health in organic grain rotations on two sites – at Carman, Man., under the supervision of Martin Entz, and at the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus in Truro, N.S., under the supervision of Derek Lynch. The project, which is funded by the Organic Science Cluster through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), began in 2013 and will conclude this year.

She says cover cropping shows enormous promise for weed control in both organic and conventional systems. “I would love to see more use of cover crops in all systems. I think they can solve all kinds of problems,” she says.

Marshall’s project is focused on determining how green manure termination method affects soil health in organic grain rotations, with three tillage intensities applied on all plots: no-till, minimum tillage and spring and fall tillage.

At Carman, Marshall’s team is employing a four-year rotation of hairy vetch-wheat-fall rye-soybean plus a red clover-red clover-wheat-soybean rotation. At Truro, the experiment is testing two green manures – pea/oat, and hairy vetch/barley, each followed by a wheat-fall rye-soybean rotation.

In the first round at Truro, Marshall says, “We had really good growth of the green manure. Some plots got up to 10 tonnes per hectare of biomass, and it was really effective at stamping out the weeds.”

When the experiment was repeated in 2014, a dry spring resulted in limited growth and very thin mulch. “The weeds went berserk in the no-till plots,” Marshall says. “Weed control seems to really depend on getting enough biomass to get a thick enough mulch, and that really depends on the weather.”

Termination methods matter, too: when mulches were mowed in the fall at Truro, they decomposed, leaving too little mulch on the soil surface in the spring. When a roller crimper was used instead, the cover crops continued to grow until winterkilled, resulting in heavy mulch cover in the spring.

“Researchers in North Dakota, Georgia and New England are also finding that if you don’t get enough biomass to suppress the weeds, they’ll take over your cash crop and cause a lot of problems in a very short time,” she says.

It’s early days for this research, but both Halde and Marshall are enthusiastic about the potential for mulch-based weed control in organic and conventional systems alike. “In conventional systems you can use different crops to get more consistent mulch levels, which has a lot of potential to help with long-term control,” says Marshall.





December 1, 2015 - Once considered a weed, camelina is gaining popularity in some parts of the country as a soil-protecting winter cover crop. Additionally, its seed contains high-quality oil for use in cooking and as biodiesel, offering a renewable alternative to imported petroleum.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have been on the forefront of studies to make camelina and other novel oilseed crops more profitable for farmers to grow, easier for industry to process, and better performing as finished biofuels and other products. At the Soil Management Research Unit, operated in Morris, Minnesota, by USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), scientists are evaluating the outcome of integrating camelina, canola, pennycress and other oilseeds with plantings of traditional Midwestern crops, such as corn and soybeans.

In a recent study published in the April issue of Agronomy Journal, ARS scientists Russ Gesch and Jane Johnson examined the seasonal water use of double cropping and relay cropping-strategies that overlap the growth of winter camelina and soybean. Highlights of their findings are:

  • Under natural rainfall conditions, relay cropping (in which the soybean crop is seeded between rows of growing camelina plants) used less water than double cropping (in which soybean seed is sown right after a camelina harvest, around mid to late June) and produced higher soybean yields.
  • Relay-cropped soybean yields were lower than those of full-season soybean crops; however, the total oil yield from the relay system (camelina plus soy) was 50 percent greater than the full-season soybean-only crop.
  • Net economic returns of relay cropping were competitive with those of full-season soybean, while adding the benefits of a cover crop.

According to the researchers, the study demonstrates a sustainable way to grow crops for both food and fuel on the same parcel of land, which could potentially offer farmers a dual source of income in a single season.

Read more about this research in the November issue of AgResearch.

Oct. 13, 2015, Hamilton, Ont. – G3 Canada Limited will construct a new lake terminal at the Port of Hamilton to originate grains and oilseeds out of Southern Ontario for export to global markets.

The 50,000-metric tonne facility will be located at Pier 26 in the Port of Hamilton, just off Queen Elizabeth Way. Grains and oilseeds will be loaded on to vessels for transport to G3's facilities on the St. Lawrence River. From there, they will be shipped onwards to export markets around the world.

Construction on the facility is already underway and is slated for completion prior to the 2017 harvest.

The Alberta Biochar program is a recent addition to the work undertaken by Alberta Innovates Technology Futures (AITF) through a partnership with Lakeland College.

“We have a saying that not all biochars are created equal,” says Anthony Anyia, lead scientist and manager, Bioresource Technologies with AITF. “Depending on what you want to use biochar for, the feedstock you are using for the biochar may have some other components that may not necessarily be good for the application you are looking at.”

Biochar is the material created when biomass is combusted under low oxygen conditions, a process known as pyrolysis. It is a green platform technology with the potential to improve soil and reduce greenhouse gases.

Alberta has yet to carry out any large-scale biochar studies, says Anyia, which limits the information available on biochar. Studies underway right now are examining biochar production, standards, quality and different end-use applications.

Anyia is hoping that recent funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada, a number of provincial sources as well as industry partners will help provide answers.

Producing biochar
Two biochar production units have been acquired for the Alberta Biochar program to demonstrate the biochar production process and produce biochar for different end-use pre-commercial testing. “With this now, we are in a position to make biochar from different feedstocks and we can now work with partners to evaluate the biochar,” says Anyia.

Biochar can be made from a variety of materials, pulling on what is available in the area. A forest company could use wood and forest residue or pulp mill waste to make biochar, while a crop producer could use wheat or barley straw or residues from other crops.

Biochar could be an important ally in fighting greenhouse gas emissions. While all biomass eventually breaks down, releasing carbon back into the atmosphere, if biomass is used in making biochar, biochar stabilizes that biomass, cutting in half the carbon that will eventually be released and allows the carbon to remain sequestered for longer periods. Unlike biofuel that is carbon neutral, biochar is carbon negative and can potentially reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions from soil.

AITF is working with partners, who are using biochar as a horticulture growth media for vegetable crops in greenhouses. Early indications show the same or higher yields achieved and the alleviation of herbicide toxicity. The demonstration phase is presently occurring in Brooks, Alberta, where Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (AARD) has teamed up with a local commercial greenhouse facility and greenhouse growers. Work is also being carried out in British Columbia with a greenhouse company. That project is moving toward commercialization, says Anyia.

Bonnie Drozdowski is the program leader for the reclamation group at AITF. Her work is with biochar as a soil amendment, which falls into two categories: land reclamation and marginal soil amelioration.

Soil amendments to boost crop yield
Three field seasons of soil trials on a private producer’s field in the Bruce/Tofield area have netted “some really interesting results,” says Drozdowski.

Drozdowski stresses that the plots used were small and that the focus was not on the mechanisms or the processes occurring within the soil, but to demonstrate crop response to biochar application into the Bnt horizon of solonetzic soils. The use of biochar was compared to a control treatment and to deep-trenching, and has resulted in improved productivity in the biochar treatments.

“We’re really quite positive that these results give us inclination to continue a further scaled-up research program in respect to enhancing marginal solonetzic soils,” says Drozdowski. She notes the trials did not take into consideration operational values; and while the operational costs for using biochar would be the same as deep-trenching, there would be the additional cost of purchasing biochar.

However, there would be long-term benefits in using biochar, which would include improving water and nutrient dynamics. “This is speculative because we haven’t done the actual science to prove out what is actually happening, but we believe it is occurring,” cautions Drozdowski.  

Reclamation and remediation
Land reclamation requirements in the 1980s and early ’90s were not as stringent as they are now and many abandoned oil and gas sites were left in poor condition. “So now when we’re going back to do the reclamation, it’s quite challenging to get the same level of productivity on the sites or even the same capability, which is how reclamation in the province is governed,” says Drozdowski.

Coupled with that is the directive to not introduce new plant species or sources of weeds to the reclaimed sites. “Because biochar is an inert substance in nature but still has beneficial soil properties, it can enhance the productivity of soil without the subsequent issues that might be associated with a typical amendment application,” says Drozdowski.

Trials for this use of biochar will get underway in 2013 with two wellsites located in the Peace Region. AITF will be partnering with novaNAIT’s Northern Boreal Research Institute in Peace River where biochar and mechanical pulp sludge will be evaluated against a control on two different soil types. And, work is being undertaken with a partner to determine if biochar can be used as a filtration media for processing affected water.

Also, because biochar is a fine material that faces up to a 30 per cent loss when applied on an operational large scale, which limits its applications, research is underway to determine if it is feasible to create a higher value biochar product that is easier for large-scale applications.

Managed permanent pastures are something that many crop farmers have – and the productivity of these pastures is closely associated with what species mixtures are planted and how many species are present. “Ecological theory suggests that increasing the diversity of plant species in an area will provide higher productivity, resilience and resistance to invasive species, and we wanted to investigate this concept with mixed-grass forage species,” explains Yousef Papadopoulos, a crop scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and an instructor at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro, Nova Scotia.
May 13, 2013 - Member of Parliament Ray Boughen (Palliser), on behalf of Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, and Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart have announced a $10 million investment over five years for the Saskatchewan Lean Improvements in Manufacturing (SLIM) program.

“As our agriculture industry grows, there is a demand to provide safe, reliable products more efficiently and effectively than ever before,” Stewart said. “Increasing our value-added processing is a key component of our plan for growth and this new initiative will help to achieve that goal and grow the industry.”

The new SLIM program will provide funding to help value-added agribusiness processors adopt best practices, new technologies, and state-of-the-art processes that stimulate improvements in productivity and efficiency.

The program will provide funding for lean gap analysis to help applicants identify process improvements, associated equipment, facility modifications, and training requirements related to improvements in productivity and efficiency. Eligible expenditures under the gap analysis include consultant fees and expenses directly related to the cost of developing the assessment. Funding is available for up to 50 per cent of eligible and approved expenses to a maximum of $20,000 per applicant.

The program also includes an infrastructure component, which will provide funding for facility modifications, equipment and associated installation and training to improve productivity as identified in the gap analysis. This would include projects such as process automation, process improvements and technology adoption. Funding is available for up to 50 per cent of eligible and approved expenses. The maximum project allocation per applicant is $500,000.

The SLIM program is open to Saskatchewan agri-businesses involved in value added processing of agricultural products, such as food, feed and bio-products.

“Our goal is to produce top-quality products and if we can find a more efficient way to serve our clients’ needs, we will look at any and all opportunities,” Tony Martinez, President of Donald’s Fine Foods said. “This program will allow agribusinesses, like ours, with the extra incentive to improve our overall processes.”

Interested applicants can find more information on at

Apr. 1, 2013, Johnston, IA - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced a new federal-private collaboration with DuPont to safeguard natural resources on private lands used to supply bio-based feedstocks for cellulosic ethanol production. The joint agreement between USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and DuPont aims to set voluntary standards for the sustainable harvesting of agricultural residues for renewable fuel, and supports rural job creation, additional income for farmers, bio-based energy development, and the safeguarding of natural resources and land productivity.

"Working with farmers is critical to maximizing the land's productivity and protecting natural resources," said Jim C. Borel, executive vice president of DuPont. "With this new collaboration, we have a partner in the Natural Resources Conservation Service to ensure that the collection of corn stover for the production of cellulosic renewable fuel makes sense for an individual grower's operation and the land they farm."

This announcement involves the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between NRCS and DuPont.

USDA, through NRCS, will provide conservation planning assistance for farmers who supply bio-based feedstocks to biorefineries as the industry begins to commercialize. Conservation plan, written for individual operations, will ensure sustainable harvest of corn crop residues while promoting natural resource conservation and land productivity. A conservation plan is a voluntary document, written in cooperation with farmers, which helps them protect natural resources while promoting a farm's economic sustainability.

Through the MOU, DuPont will develop a process to work with cooperating farms on sustainable harvest practices that help keep soil in the field and out of rivers, streams and lakes; promote healthier soils which help reduce flooding through increased infiltration rates, and provide for the efficient use of nutrients.

The first plant involved in this national agreement is northeast of Des Moines, Iowa, near the town of Nevada where DuPont is building a 30 million gallons/year cellulosic facility. This plant will use harvested residues from a 30-mile radius around the facility.

"This agreement will support our Nation's effort to reduce dependency on foreign oil, while working to protect and improve the productivity of our soils—one of our most valuable resources," said Secretary Vilsack.

When it comes to harvesting a short-rotation woody biomass crop, farmers already have a choice of several proven high-, medium- and low-cost equipment options. What is interesting about biomass harvesting, though, is that optimal harvesting of the crop takes place in winter, so it doesn’t conflict with normal agriculture cropping activities.

The Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (CWFC) and local partners recently conducted two equipment demonstrations in Alberta and Manitoba.

In Alberta, 40 participants had the opportunity to observe and evaluate three different harvesting technologies at a short-rotation woody fibre bioremediation plantation next to the Whitecourt waste treatment plant. Organized by Martin Blank, CWFC wood fibre and bioremediation technician, the harvesting demonstration featured a Claas self-propelled, Jaguar 870 harvester equipped with the two-row, HS-2 willow harvesting head; a pull-type WB-55 BioBaler manufactured by Quebec’s Anderson Group Co.; and the three-point-hitch mounted JF 192 single row willow harvester.

“We’re evaluating the different options that are available for short-rotation woody biomass harvesting and demonstrating them to potential users, practitioners and stakeholders,” says Derek Sidders, CWFC regional co-ordinator for the Prairies.

“When looking at the whole supply chain, this demonstration shows that we can not only grow short-rotation woody crops, but we also have the technology to recover [the biomass].”

Differences in the technology

There were a number of differences among the three technologies demonstrated. The Claas harvester and JF 192 harvester both produce wood chips, but the BioBaler produces round, woody stem bales, similar in appearance to straw round bales. All, however, showed no difficulty harvesting the four- to six-centimetre-thick willow and hybrid poplar stems they encountered during the demonstration.

When it comes to selecting the most appropriate harvesting option, Sidders says individuals need to consider what the most operationally appropriate and cost-effective technology is to provide the raw material for their desired end product, and consider which technology best matches the scale of the area slated for harvesting.

Claas self-propelled, Jaguar 870 harvester

The Claas harvester is designed to work on commercial plantations only, and it both cuts and chips the wood fibre. It can harvest as much as one hectare per hour. It was also the most expensive technology demonstrated, so a fairly large-scale operation would be the most appropriate. It harvests two rows at a time, and requires an accompanying wagon to travel with the harvester to receive and transport the chips.

WB-55 BioBaler harvester

The BioBaler mulches the stems and produces a round bale similar in appearance to a hay bale that weighs between 300 and 400 kilograms wet. It requires a 180- to 220-horsepower tractor to power and pull the implement. It can be used on commercial plantations, or to harvest understorey or juvenile stems in natural forests. The bales can be stored on site and will naturally dry. The bales may require further pre-processing before the raw material can be used as feedstock. The BioBaler can harvest any plantation design.

At the Manitoba demonstration, 35 participants watched the WB-55 BioBaler harvest second-generation, short-rotation, concentrated woody biomass on a 60-hectare afforestation site on the outskirts of Winnipeg. Organized by Manitoba Conservation and Tim Keddy, CWFC wood fibre development specialist, in co-operation with the landowners, Peter and Irene de Graff, the harvesting demonstration profiled the harvest and baling of several clones of hybrid poplar and willow up to 12 centimetres in diameter. The recovered bales were used in an industrial wood boiler.

JF 192 single-row harvester

The JF 192 single-row harvester on its own is the less expensive option, but it also works at a slower pace. Manufactured in Brazil for harvesting sugarcane and corn, it has been adapted for harvesting and chipping willow, and is currently being used successfully to harvest woody fibre. It also requires a tractor for power and transportation, and must be accompanied by a chip wagon to receive and transport chips.

The results
In summary, the Claas 870 Jaguar Harvester with HS-2 head attachment is self-propelled and produces wood chips. It is a two-row harvester, requires an accompanying chip wagon, operates at 8-10 km/h, and works in commercial plantations. Claas has several operating units, particularly in Europe.

The Anderson Group WB-55 BioBaler produces 300- to 400-kilogram wet round bales. It is a pull-type implement that requires 180- to 220-horsepower tractor for movement and power. The bales are loaded and transported using standard agriculture round bale technology. It works in commercial plantations or natural forests, and there are 10 to 12 units operating worldwide.

The JF Maquinas 192 Harvester produces wood chips. It is a tractor-mounted (three-point-hitch) implement requiring a tractor for movement and power. A single-row harvester, it works in commercial plantations, and there are 10 units operating in Europe.


Jan. 23, 2013, Gander, NL - The Canadian Government is helping create new uses for agricultural and seafood waste that will generate economic and environmental benefits in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Honourable Peter Penashue, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Member of Parliament for Labrador, on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, announced an investment that will help turn these by-products into green energy and fertilizer.

"Often the products left over from production processes have value that can create important economic opportunities for producers," said Minister Penashue. "With this investment, our government is helping to enhance the competiveness of Canadian producers in an environmentally sustainable way."

With this total investment of $458,000, the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture (NLFA) and Glenview Farms will lead three projects:

  • $170,000 will allow the NLFA to look at the feasibility of creating a concentrated liquid fertilizer from salmon by-products, which could improve soil quality and overall crop performance in both organic and traditional systems.
  • $124,400 will help the NLFA determine the feasibility of using anaerobic digestion technology to recycle organic matter into fertilizer and biogas that can be used as an energy source.
  • $163,600 will allow Glenview Farms to study the use of a filter press process that will extract the water from dairy cattle manure to create a more effective liquid fertilizer and more easily compostable solid waste.

These projects will help farmers find cost-effective and environmentally sustainable approaches to managing their organic waste products and could reduce Newfoundland's dependency on imported fertilizers. Once tested, these new methods and products could benefit producers across Canada.

"We are very excited about the potential results from this collaborative research project. The envisioned technology and partnerships represent an innovative approach to enhancing the day-to-day farm operations in an environmentally sound manner, while ensuring the sector remains competitive," said Robert Walsh, President of Glenview Farms Inc.

The projects are supported through the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP), a five-year, $163-million initiative to help the Canadian agricultural sector adapt and remain competitive. The Newfoundland and Labrador Agri-Adapt Council Inc. delivers the regional component of CAAP in Newfoundland and Labrador.

For more information on the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program and the Newfoundland and Labrador Agri-Adapt Council, please visit and

Sept. 19, 2012 - High-biomass sorghum, developed by Ceres Inc., was planted in the northeastern U.S. in July with Sweetwater Energy Inc. is being considered a success.

According to an article in Biomass Magazine, despite the problems associated with a new crop and poor weather conditions, the sorghum has been growing quite well and possesses many advantages over other crops.

“It’s an annual crop, which means that farmers can gain experience as growers without making a long-term commitment," said Chuck Kyle of Cato Analytics LLC at a field day fpor Western Farmers. "Sorghum can be planted and harvested with conventional equipment, and it doesn’t have to be planted early to produce a good crop.”

More than 400 acres of the high-biomass crop from Ceres was planted, as well as strip trials of other varieties, for the eventual use in a pilot research facility.

For more information, pelase see the complete article at Biomass Magazine.

Apr. 24, 2012, Edmonton, AL - Nova Green Inc., an Alberta-based specialty refinery that aims to make high-value nutritional and environmental products from low-value agricultural biomass, is poised to become North America’s only producer of inulin in the next 24 months.

Inulin, a soluble dietary fiber, is in high demand among retailers and processed food manufacturers because of its versatility, its low-caloric nature, and its health benefits — including its ability to increase calcium absorption and its promotion of intestinal bacteria growth.

A so-called “invisible” dietary fiber, inulin is a preferred option for fiber-fortified food and beverage products. Suitable for diabetics, it’s categorized as a “novel fiber” — with that market expected to continue to rapid growth over the next few years.

“We know that retailers and processed foods manufacturers across North America are looking to increase dietary fiber throughout their product lines. There is an enormous potential market here,” says Barry Farquharson, CEO of NovaGreen.

“And the fact that NovaGreen is based in North America will give us numerous advantages over current offshore suppliers.”

Canadian imports of inulin skyrocketed from $669,000 in 2005 to $10.696M in 2009. The U.S. market has doubled in the past five years, with 2015 estimates pegged at $250M. U.S. market research publisher Packaged Facts is bullish on the “novel fiber” category as consumers continue to seek fiber-rich foods; Packaged Facts expects the market share of “novel fibers” to increase by more than 750 per cent over a 10-year period ending in 2014.

Inulin is the only recognized dietary fiber in Canada that can be added to beverage applications to produce clear products, and earned GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) status in the United States in 1992. Its food and beverage applications include baked goods; snacks, potato chips, tortilla chips, flatbread, and pasta; soups, sauces, and salad dressings; cereals and cereal bars; functionally enhanced water; and juice and dairy products.

NovaGreen’s ultra-efficient, proprietary Sequential Extraction Technology (SET) will convert abundant biomass, such as wheat straw, corn stover, wood chips, and Jerusalem artichoke, into a high-value, highly regarded array of products in both the health and nutrition and the environmental industries. Those products will also include xylitol, a naturally occurring sugar substitute; XOS (xylo-oligosaccharides), another edible fiber with prebiotic function; biochar for soil amendment and remediation; and activated carbon, used in airborne and soil-based environmental cleanup.

NovaGreen, whose production facilities will be based in Killam, Alberta, currently seeks a limited number of accredited investors, via a private $300,000 offering, to augment early-stage business plan continuity. These investment dollars would be used for pre-engineering activities at the demonstration site; for various sub-contract activities related to ongoing agricultural activities; and for early-stage sample preparation of key outputs.

About Nova Green Inc.

NovaGreen, a specialty biorefinery, uses its ultra-efficient, proprietary Sequential Extraction Technology (SET™) to convert low-value, abundant biomass into high-value, high-margin, highly regarded products for the world marketplace. These products include dietary fibers and specialty sugar substitutes such as inulin, xylitol, and XOS (xylo-oligosaccharides); biochar for soil amendment and remediation; and activated carbon, which has significant, sustainable potential for airborne and water-based environmental cleanup.

Apr. 4, 2012, Washington, DC - USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Bruce Nelson announced the application period for the next round of Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) Project Areas. Proposals will be accepted until April 23, 2012.

“BCAP provides incentives to farmers and forest landowners to grow non-food crops to be processed into biofuels – a critical element of our national energy strategy to address high fuel prices and reduce reliance on foreign oil,” said Nelson. “Because most energy crops are perennial and take time to mature before harvest, BCAP is designed so that sufficient quantities of feedstock will be available to meet future demand. And because these crops can grow where other crops cannot, it provides farmers with new opportunities to diversify into more markets.”

The BCAP Project Areas where these crops are grown will be selected from proposals producers or biomass facilities submit to FSA. Information about submitting a proposal can be found on the website.

BCAP was created in the 2008 Farm Bill. USDA selected nine project areas in FY 2011, which resulted in the approval of more than 860 producer contracts to grow camelina, hybrid poplar, warm season grasses and giant miscanthus on almost 50,000 acres. The total investment in those projects is estimated to be $55 million.

On Nov. 18, 2011, Congress enacted the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012, limiting the total amount of funding available for BCAP to $17 million.

The Request for Proposal and additional information can be found at

To acquire information about grants available through the federal government: Go to Click on “Apply for Grants” heading on the left side of page. Click on “Download a Grant Application Package.” Type “10.087” in the box with the heading “CFDA Number” and click on “Download Package.”

About the USDA and FSA

To create jobs in rural communities, drive economic growth, and help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, USDA is aggressively pursuing investments in renewable energy, investing in or making payments to over 5,700 renewable energy and energy efficiency improvement projects. To learn about other programs offered through FSA, visit

Farmers around Whitecourt and Slave Lake areas have been profiting greatly from what once thought of as “waste product” - mechanical pulp sludge produced by Alberta News Print Company (ANC), Millar Western Forest Products and Slave Lake Pulp (SLP). This is all thanks to the 20 years’ worth of research in the utilization of sludge lead by the Alberta Research Council (ARC) (now part of Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures) with support from the Mechanical Pulp and Paper Consortium Research Program.

Over the years many test plots have been established to evaluate the impact of single and multiple applications of sludge from different mills to obtain long term data relative to the impact on crop yields and soil quality. The benefits of sludge application on agricultural land have been overwhelmingly positive; turns out sludge not only acts like a slow release fertilizer but also provides many added benefits as a soil amendment.

In a project at the ANC Mayerthorpe site it was demonstrated that a one-time sludge application of 50 tonne of dry sludge/ha would yield in the same quality and quantity of barley as application of 200 kg/ha of 35-15-0 fertilizer annually over three years. Residual benefits from sludge were seen even after 5 years from initial sludge application. Sludge can supply a total of 15 to 30 kg N/tonne and most of the nitrogen in sludge exists in the organic form, and becomes available on a “slow release” basis. The cost savings associated with annual fertilizer application is significant for farmers who have access to pulp sludge.

Other beneficial aspects of sludge include the ability to improve soil structure and tilth and thereby increasing soil water holding capacity. Standards and guidelines for the land application of mechanical pulp mill sludge to agricultural land have been developed jointed by ANC, Millar Western Pulp, SLP, Alberta Environment and Water, Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development and the ARC. Application rates and recommended standard practices were developed to ensure that sludge is used in an environmentally responsible manner.

For more information on the benefits of sludge in agriculture please go to

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