Emmetsburg farmers complete 61,000 ton biomass harvest for cellulosic ethanol

Nearly 100 farmers await BCAP funds before delivering to POET

Thursday, November 10, 2011

As part of the 2011 harvest, farmers around Emmetsburg, Iowa have baled approximately 61,000 bone-dry tons of corn crop residue. The bales of corn cobs and light stover will be delivered to a biomass storage site in Emmetsburg, where POET’s commercial cellulosic ethanol biorefinery will be completed in 2013.

The harvest number represents 15 new contracts and an additional 5,000 tons above last year’s total as POET moves toward a target of 285,000 tons of biomass per year for Project LIBERTY. Project LIBERTY is POET’s 25 million-gallon-per-year cellulosic ethanol plant scheduled to come online in 2013. Early site work – including grading and construction of a second weigh station – is underway with heavy construction scheduled for 2012.

“Biomass harvesting is moving along as planned, and I’m confident we’ll have a large and consistent supply of corn cobs and light stover once Project LIBERTY is running,” POET founder and CEO Jeff Broin said. “Both the farmers and POET Biomass personnel have learned a lot in the last few years about best practices in biomass harvesting, and that experience will pay dividends.”

Farmers are waiting for word on the status of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) in the 2012 federal budget before delivering the bales to POET’s 22-acre stackyard. The program is an incentive that helped many of the farmers start harvesting cellulosic feedstock last year.

The goal of these early harvests is to streamline the process for harvest, storage and delivery of biomass to Project LIBERTY. Approximately 300-400 bales will be part of ongoing biomass storage research, and up to 1,500 bales could be used for additional research. Some of the biomass will go to POET’s pilot cellulosic ethanol plant in Scotland, S.D. and some will go to other uses.

“Research is paramount to what we’re doing in Emmetsburg,” Project LIBERTY Director Jim Sturdevant said. “Not only do we have to keep a consistent flow of biomass to the facility, we need to ensure that farmers know how to harvest in a manner that maintains soil health.”

Contact Matt Merritt at to get photos of this year’s harvest or to set up an interview with Project LIBERTY personnel or participating farmers.

About POET
POET, the largest ethanol producer in the world, is a leader in biorefining through its efficient, vertically integrated approach to production. The 23-year-old company has a production capacity of more than 1.7 billion gallons of ethanol and 9 billion pounds of high-protein animal feed annually from 27 production facilities nationwide. POET also operates a pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol plant, which uses corn cobs and light stover as feedstock, and will commercialize the process in Emmetsburg, Iowa. For more information, visit

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