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Northeast Woody/Warm-season Biomass Consortium

Extension

The team will use its extensive, innovative experience in sustainable agriculture and bioenergy systems to transfer project knowledge and skills developed to support rapid deployment of willow- and warm-season grass-based bioenergy systems for economic, social and environmental benefits. Our states’ extension programs have engaged with farmers, landowners and industry across the supply chain for many years, providing rich informal networks that have already facilitated the four commercial biofuel and bioenergy demonstrations detailed above.

The program will enable informed public decision making, practical problem solving, and effective business development for the bioenergy economy to key audiences:

We focus on delivering programs to stakeholders traditionally underrepresented in Cooperative Extension programs, and build on experience in bioenergy extension and eXtension to provide outreach programs that meet their needs. Key tasks include:

Task 6.1. Integrated demonstration sites (Jacobson, Marrison, Sprague, Gruchecky, Skousen, Hall)

Intense, focused extension activity in communities surrounding commercial demonstration sites will engage stakeholders across the supply chain, leading to rapid scale-up and expanded production and use of willow and warm-season grasses. We will work with growers and landowners to establish a cohort of individuals that understands how to establish, manage and harvest these crops so that there is a trained workforce prepared to deploy tens of thousands of acres at several locations in the region. Each demonstration site will host workshops, field days, hands-on training and other activities that involving local farmers as well as NEWBio experts.

Task 6.2. Biomass equipment access program (Sprague, Jacobson, Dowler, Volk)

A major barrier to large-scale bioenergy crop production is a lack of available planting and harvest equipment.  We will forward-position specialty equipment made by Agricultural Development Services (NB Step willow planter), Case New Holland (willow harvester), and Anderson Group111 (willow biobaler) and leased from Double A Willow to loan to growers or custom operators growing and harvesting perennial energy crops and provide equipment training.

Task 6.3. Small business and economic development (Thomchick, Jacobson, Marrison, Volk)

Working with regional Economic Development Corporations, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Small Business Development Centers, Farm Credit of Western NY, and other public and private entities, Penn State MBA students and community development educators will help entrepreneurs develop new businesses to ensure efficient, reliable supply chain markets. Materials include quarterly price and cost reports, business plans, and supply agreements.

Task 6.4. Expand eXtension.org for willow and warm-season grasses (Hawkins, Jacobson, Ciolkosz, Smart)

We will expand the reach and accessibility of bioenergy programming by enhancing and extending the Sustainable Farm Energy and Wood Energy Communities of Practices (CoPs) regionally and nationally. Our leadership, coordination, and integration of the two CoPs will develop information, resources, and decision-support to increase the effectiveness and value of eXtension programming in this area.

Task 6.5. Interactive and innovative learning-lessons tools (Ciolkosz, Jacobson, Grushecky)

Interactive and innovative learning-lessons tools include dynamic, interactive web-based resources for biomass growers and entrepreneurs.  New media, videos, fact sheets, and FAQs will build audience awareness and knowledge, and support various stakeholders' decision-making. An expanded range of webinars that builds on the Penn State NE Wood Energy webinar series will be offered to provide information from all tasks.

Expected outputs and outcomes

Expected outputs and outcomes include:

NEWBio (consortium members below) is supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2012-68005-19703 
from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
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