The Ozarks New Energy Conference
Ozarks farmers looking to use their land and byproducts more productively: This conference is for you. Join the discussion on the future of energy here in southwest Missouri at the Ozarks New Energy Conference Feb.22-23 in Springfield, Mo. Nationally recognized biomass researchers and experts, University and extension specialists, government officials and private business leaders will speak on biomass as an alternative energy source.
“Farmers are one of the target groups the conference planners believe should attend because we’ve heard a lot about corn ethanol. But corn doesn’t grow in the Ozarks as well as in other parts of the midwest. There are other crops research is showing Ozarks farmers could grow that could potentially be used as a cellulosic ethanol,” conference coordinator Jennifer Ailor said.
Conference highlights will include a welcome from Dave Coonrod, presiding commissioner for Greene County, Mo., and welcoming remarks from U.S. Congressman Roy Blunt. The opening speaker, David Bransby, professor of agronomy and soils at Auburn University, will speak on “Agriculture: A Major Player in U.S. Energy.”
Some of the topics that will be covered include growing switchgrass or using agricultural or wood waste and byproducts as energy fuels. Researchers will also present on the pros and cons of corn-based ethanol.
Conference attendees will have the opportunity to talk with representatives of the National Biomass Producers Association, a Missouri-based group, which will exhibit at the conference.
Ailor said she hopes conference attendees will take home ideas on improving the energy efficiency of their farm, home and businesses, and will be encouraged to put to use what’s available right now in wind and solar applications.
Dan Chiles, Springfield, Mo., city councilman, is credited in part with getting the ball rolling on an energy conference specific to the Ozarks over a year ago. Wanting to begin the discussion of a more “sustainable Ozarks,” he organized a meeting to talk ideas. A year later, the conference is planned, and backed by experts, politicians and citizens alike.
“We must explore what resources we have in the Ozarks. We have land, and a lot of farmers that are capable of implementing new technologies.
If area farmers are making more money it’s good for Springfield. We produce our own energy and keep our money here instead of sending it to Wyoming for coal, or Saudi Arabia for oil,” Chiles said.
With efforts to keep money at home, it takes more than just a few people, it takes industry leaders from all sectors, Chiles said.
“We are trying to find a way to build a relationship between farmers and utilities so that farmers can grow fuel crops on marginal land to give them an entirely new source of income.”
The conference fees are $75, with discounts for college students. The conference will offer two breakfasts, a lunch and reception, plus a ‘Sustainable Evening’ in downtown Springfield, Mo.
Registration can be completed online at www.ozarksnewenergy.org or by calling 417-581-0745.