Alternative energy has been on the minds of agricultural and environmentally focused individuals, agencies, organizations and government ministries for some time now. Alternative energy provides the option for farmers to change production, or get into what seems to be a growing effort to build a sustainable society. On the flip side, there are some who argue that using valuable farmland for fuel sources and not to feed the growing population is a mistake.
There is an opportunity for growers to become involved in a new bio-fuel production operation with the exciting construction of a pellet manufacturing business on a former Cargill elevator site. This business would allow for struggling tobacco farmers, and other growers, to choose an alternative crop as there are 4 different types of energy crops that can be harvested and used for energy pellet production. The 4 types include miscanthus grass, perennial hybrid willow, prairie grass or switchgrass. The project is being spearheaded by Canadian Bio-Fuel company out of Chatham and is said to produce 25,000 tonnes of wood pellets and brickettes as early as this summer.
This is great news for growers in not only Oxford County, but closely surrounding counties as it is more economically efficient to transport a harvest from producers within a 50km radius. If this plant is a success, the company plans to build another in either the Simcoe area or in Wallaceburg.