Pulaski County Discusses Agriculture’s Importance in Renewable Energy

According to a specialist in renewable energies, Pulaski County is in a prime location to take advantage of corn-based renewable fuel. Chad Martin from Purdue Extension was present at the economic summit at the Francesville Fire Station on Sept. 22, and he told community leaders that corn stover, which is the pieces of corn plants that are left over from the harvest process such as stalks and cobs, can be converted to fuel instead of thrown away or left on the field.

Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer says that this could be a great opportunity for Pulaski County to shine, because its skill in agriculture paired with a focus on renewable energy could be extremely beneficial to farmers, as well as the county as a whole.

“Ideally, it would work out such that the farmer makes a little bit of money selling what’s sitting in his field,” said Origer.

The corn stover is typically left on the field during winter to protect the crops, but in reality, only one-third is required to maintain the field. The remaining stover can be sold to a facility to allow for conversion to energy, putting money in the farmer’s pocket and energy back into the community.

However, many questions remain unanswered, such as who pays to transport the stover, who handles the transportation and takes it out of the field. In addition, the question remains of where the stover waiting to be converted will be stored– on site, or elsewhere? Ideally, the stover should be kept in an indoor, climate-controlled facility to prevent spontaneous combustion.

Currently, the project is in the infancy stage, but Pulaski County officials are also working on developing the Pulaski County Center for Agriculture-Renewable Energy, more commonly known as PC-CARE. This is an “agricultural tech-park,” which was identified in the county’s strategic plan for economic development to increase focus on agricultural and renewable energy.

With the ever-dimming future of gasoline, alternative fuel sources are becoming more and more popular. Origer says they plan to get more local farmers involved in the plan as time progresses.

“Once we get plans moving a little bit further along, we’ll make a concentrated effort to reach out to farmers in the area, the county, and surrounding areas,” said Origer.