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OFA helping to build an Ontario bioeconomy

November 21, 2014, Guelph, Ont. - With a mandate to enable prosperous and sustainable farms, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) continues cultivating new markets and opportunities for Ontario farmers and farm products. That’s why we’re working to build a bioeconomy industry in our province.


November 21, 2014
By Don McCabe OFA

November 21, 2014, Guelph, Ont. – With a mandate to enable prosperous and sustainable farms,
the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) continues cultivating new markets
and opportunities for Ontario farmers and farm products. That’s why we’re
working to build a bioeconomy industry in our province.

 

The bioeconomy is the economic activity resulting from the
production of renewable resources and converting them into feed, fuel,
bioenergy and other bio-based products. The OFA is working diligently with
industry partners and farmers to create a healthy bioeconomy that includes
processing plants and advanced technologies that can add important links to our
expanding value chain. One goal is to attract and build bioprocessing plants in
Ontario to process biomass such as corn stalks and wheat straw residue into
cellulosic sugar.

 

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Cellulosic sugar is another source of sugar from the farm
that can be used to produce products including fuels and chemicals. Through
extensive market development research and consulting Ontario farmers, the OFA
knows there’s a lot of interest in our province to create markets for our
biomass products.

 

This fall, nearly 1,000 Ontario farmers took part in two
cornstalk harvesting demonstrations in southwestern Ontario. The interest in
cutting and baling corn stalks, or corn stover was encouraging. The
demonstrations, hosted by the OFA and numerous farmers, included the latest
equipment for chopping, baling and stacking corn stover. Impressive results of
a recent report from Iowa farmers currently producing bales of corn stover for
cellulosic sugar production were shared with participants.

 

Corn stover, traditionally used for livestock bedding and
cattle feed, has huge potential in Ontario for large scale harvesting. Corn
stalks are composed of 47% sugar. Increased corn yields in recent years have
improved the amount of stover remaining after the grain is harvested. The ratio
of grain corn production to corn stover is 1:1. That means one tonne of
harvested grain corn will leave one tonne of corn stover. With that kind of
yield, and a sustainable harvest protocol to ensure enough residue is left for
the soil’s needs, Ontario farmers are potentially leaving a lot of money in the
field.  Iowa farmers reported net profits
of $36 per acre from corn stover sales for cellulosic ethanol production.

 

New market development opportunities are always welcome in
Ontario’s agri-food industry. There’s huge potential for an Ontario biomass
processing industry, and the resulting economic spin offs and jobs. We’ve got
farmers ready and waiting to provide the feedstock. Now, we just need the
processors and technology to extend the value chain. The OFA is working closely
with industry, partnering to host events like the demonstrations this fall and
appealing to all levels of government to assist in drawing processing companies
to our rural neighbourhoods. Ontario is poised for a bioeconomy boom and
agriculture is the cornerstone.


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