Nature in balance: Achieving landscape scale prairie conservation through value innovation
In every generation there is a window of opportunity to fulfill a role in the industrial revolution of technology. Today there is an opening to provide economy, environmental advantage and energy security and independence. Advancement in our ability to produce biomethane (green natural gas) through biomass crop and residue anaerobic digestion bioenergy conversion, wastewater treatment, and nutrient management, combined with technology advances in hydraulic fracturing of natural gas (blue natural gas) from shale rock layers, is an opportunity to reach significant scale toward social-ecological innovation goal. Such fuels in the form of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) serve as a clean-burning source, ninety percent cleaner burning as compared to diesel fuel, while providing economic advantage for our vehicle transport market sector and our nation’s overall economic competitiveness. Our goal must include a sustainable source of biomass that not only provides financial return for the landowner, entrepreneur, and U.S. taxpayer, but also protects and enhances wildlife conservation, other ecosystem services, and climate. There is mounting scientific evidence that we can use diverse native prairie planting to anchor our strategic planning and implementation initiatives and drive realization of social-ecological goal.
To that end, we have assembled a high-performing team of leading public and private organizations possessing a wide diversity of perspective, strategic vision, science and technology knowledge, integration skill, and depth of resource to tackle our challenge of restoration of 15,000+ acres of native prairie grasses on Highly Erodible Lands (HEL) combined with anaerobic digestion processing of a diverse mixture of prairie grass and an unprecedented concentration of residue from farm livestock production, the largest concentration of livestock residue of its kind in our nation, for commercial production of vehicle sector biofuel. Outcome of these efforts are development of science, technology, and financial business model for eco-commerce as well as knowhow for replication by individual landowner and cooperatives on a decentralized basis throughout the Midwest to achieve superordinate goal of 30+ million acres of prairie restoration and effective demonstration model for global initiatives in developing land use and food production for fast-growing global populations.