Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Crop biomass utilization target: 80%

China plans to promote use of crop biomass (straw, stalks, leaves, etc.) as a clean source of energy, for animal feed, and organic matter for the soil, according to an official of the National Development and Reform Commission at a conference held in Anhui Province, November 9. According to the article from Xinhua, last year the State Council issued a document calling for increased utilization of crop residues--the target is to utilize more than 80% by 2015.

According to the official, a nationwide plan with a rational regional layout will be set up in accordance with each region's crop biomass residue resources and market demand. Practical pricing, subsidy and tax policies will be studied to promote incentives for different uses of crop residues. "Breakthroughs" in scientific research, use of processing equipment, and energy generation technologies will be developed. The strategy includes companies as the "dragon head," forming a harvest, storage, transportation, processing integrated industrial chain.

According to the vice-minister of agriculture, in 1992 China's State Council began a nationwide demonstration program in key provinces for utilizing crop biomass in livestock production [usually translated "straw for beef"]. Last year 220 million metric tons of crop residues were used as feed for cattle, sheep and goats in 16 provinces, including Shandong, Henan, and Anhui.

The vice-minister said that the nation's annual crop biomass/residues of 700 mmt contain 3 mmt of nitrogen, 700,000 mt of phosphorus, and 7 mmt of potassium, an important source of organic nutrients equivalent to 25% of the country's current chemical fertilizer use. As for livestock, he says the nutritional content of the crop residues is equivalent to 200 mmt of grain. In addition to supporting soil and livestock, residues can provide a source of energy and support efficient ecologically-balanced modern agriculture. Crop biomass/residues can be used to produce methane, grow mushrooms, make paper and fiberboard, generate electricity, and for compost.

A farmer chops corn stalks to be fed to goats

Here are some more details from Farmers Daily:
One ton of crop residues can be sold for 200-250 yuan.
A fiberboard manufacturing operation with 50,000 cubic meters capacity can utilize 65,000 mt of residues and directly employ 200 people, and indirectly employ 400 in harvest, storage, and transportation.
The machinery subsidy program has encouraged purchase of 398,300 "return residues to field machines" [literal translation--I don't know what you call such machines in English].
In the 17 years since the crop biomass for livestock program was initiated, 865 million yuan has been spent to develop 597 key demonstration counties.

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