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Aviation usda report finds airports could raise biofuel crops

Published on April 5th, 2012 | by Tina Casey

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U.S. Airports are Sitting on a Biofuel Goldmine

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April 5th, 2012 by  

 
usda report finds airports could raise biofuel crops

According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, airports could become a significant source of biomass for biofuels. The key takeaway from the report, Airports Offer Unrealized Potential for Alternative Energy Production, is that the typical airport environment is already managed to include wide swaths of grasslands, and to preclude wildlife (think Canada geese) that compromises flight safety.

Why grow biofuel crops at airports?

One main obstacle to introducing biofuels in the mass market is the risk that a significant increase in acreage for biofuel crops will destroy habitats and impinge on land needed for food production. A sustainable national biofuel policy will have to exploit marginal lands and environments that are already built or managed, and airports fit the bill. A similar approach to sustainable wind farm siting has been studied by The Nature Conservancy, which determined that wind energy production can be increased significantly in the U.S. without necessarily threatening important wildlife habitats, simply by focusing construction on pre-developed locations.

Biofuels and rural communities

The USDA has a rural economic development mission that dovetails with biofuel production in general, and airport biofuel potential in particular. As explained by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack:

“Converting airport grasslands to biofuel, solar or wind production not only provides more environmentally-sound alternative energy sources for our country, but may also increase revenue for airports and reduce the local abundance of potentially hazardous wildlife to aircraft. Such efforts may be particularly beneficial for rural economic development, as many rural airport properties contain expansive grasslands that potentially could be converted to biofuel crops or other renewable energy sources.”

Airports as alternative energy power stations

In addition to biofuel crop potential, airports and U.S. Air Force bases  are also emerging as important sites for solar installations and for geothermal energy, too.  Recent Air Force and Army funding for solar research will help step up those…efforts in the future. Meanwhile, the USDA is continuing its research on biofuel crop production in combination with wildlife management at airports in different regions of the U.S.

Image: Some rights reserved by Mr. Mystery

Follow Tina Casey on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.

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About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • Marion Ambler

    No, you do not put fields around airports. Someone like the USDA is off their silly rocker. YOU DO NOT PUT BIRD ATTRACTANTS AROUND AIRPORTS and the public will NOT STAND FOR LETHAL MANAGEMENT OF CANADA GEESE FOR MUCH LONGER. You people seem to be 100% lacking in all moral sense.

    This idea you can attract birds then just kill them is something from the pits and as repugnant and disgusting as it gets…trust Americans to come up with this bullshit. Save the world another way or go down without support.

    • Bob_Wallace

      No allcaps shouting, please.

      http://cleantechnica.com/cleantechnica-comment-policy/

      It would also be a good idea if you were to read the article before throwing a tantrum.

      • Marion Ambler

        Do you know anything about mitigating bird strike risks??

        • Bob_Wallace

          Are you capable of reading?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Looks like you can’t read the site rules either…

          • Marion Ambler

            that was information right from the transport canada website.

  • Phil McKracken

    What about the millions of acres in ditches along interstate highway corridors? Hemp production would be the most productive.
    There’s so much our nation could already do to improve our future. We just need to demand it happen.

  • http://twitter.com/fanta81 Rinkesh

    Biomass energy is one the most used renewable energy resource

    loved this article :)

    http://bit.ly/obz0iw

  • Moses Lonn

    Or maybe just allow the grassed areas of airports to be returned to meadow for small bird habitat. Geese don’t like taller grassy areas. They fear that’s where their predators hang out. Small birds have the sense to get the heck out of an airplane’s way and won’t cause too much damage if they try for a Darwin award.

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