> Just wanted to throw out this idea: farmers in conservation
> reserve programs might grow fuel crops (if not erosion-inducing) in order
> to fuel their own tractors. It 's kind of a twisted closed cycle,
> although dependent on more energy to convert the plants to fuel. But at
> least farmers wouldn't be growing surpluses and they would need less
> fossil fuels... Is this worth anything?
A problem with soy desiel is that beans tend to leave soil in an
erodible condition. (not much residue and it is easily decomposed,
and there seems to be less aggregation following beans so that runoff
can be greater).
Oak Ridge National Labs in Tennesee has been doing work on using
grasses and short rotation tress for energy production. They put out
a newsletter on it periodically. The editor isAnne Ehrenshaft
<email@example.com> (the last newsletter I have in my files is from the
Summer of 1994, however.)
There has been some work going on in Canada also.
Ag Economist Folke Dovring has written about this in a book titled
"Farming for Fuel" (1988: Praeger), and a more recent chapter in "Sustainable
Agriculture in the American Midwest" (1994: Univ. of Ill Press)
edited by me and William R. Edwards.
University of Illinois