The potential of using switchgrass to produce ethanol and electricity is in its second year of study by University of Kentucky (UK) College of Agriculture forage specialists and 20 farmers in the northeastern part of the state.
The farmers involved in the four-year project are located within a 60-mile radius of Maysville. Seven are in the second year of the project and most successfully established switchgrass on five-acre plots; 13 more will work to establish plots this year. Most of the switchgrass will go to East Kentucky Power Cooperative's Spurlock Station in Maysville as a possible coal supplement to produce electricity. "We knew that one of East Kentucky Power Cooperative's generating units has a fluidized bed delivery system and can burn a whole range of products," says Ray Smith, UK extension forage specialist. "So it's easy for it to take a product like this and burn it directly."
The main goals for the project: determining if switchgrass can sustainably and economically be grown and if viable markets for it can be developed. The project is funded through a grant to the Kentucky Forage and Grassland Council from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board.