To the editor,
The author of a Nov. 20 letter to the editor brought up concerns about losing soil organic matter in biomass harvesting for cellulosic ethanol.
This is a topic that has been a top priority as POET-DSM developed its harvesting recommendations.
Researchers with Iowa State University and U.S. Department of Agriculture have done a lot of work over the last eight years in the Emmetsburg area to determine that with one bone-dry ton of removal on high-yielding fields, no negative effects to soil carbon and organic matter have been seen, and even in some cases have increased.
That research continues, and we will continue to share results with our farmers.
Soil sustainability is an important matter for us from not only an ethical perspective, but a business perspective as well.
In order to be successful, this process must preserve the integrity of our farmland. That’s why we contract for 1 ton per acre, which is about half of what the research indicates is safe to take off a field.
We contract for high-yield and low-slope acres that have a large amount of material on the ground.
With so much material above ground on these acres, much of the microbial activity never reaches the soil, and in some cases nitrogen is taken up from the soil to decompose that above-ground biomass.
The startup process for Project LIBERTY has taught us many lessons over the last year, and we are excited with our recent progress toward getting the plant to continuous operation.
Our farmers have been phenomenal partners along the way, and their patience and feedback have been invaluable.
Together we are changing the world.
General manager, POET-DSM’s Project LIBERTY
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