October’s Biomass: From Grow to Go Field Day, sponsored by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy along with several co-sponsors, demonstrated the industry’s growing  expertise in biomass production, processing, and conversion research to farmers, industry representatives and students alike.

More than 1,000 attended over the course of the two-day event, including some 625 local middle- and high-school students.

Other co-sponsors of the event included Genera Energy, LLC; DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol; and Ceres, Inc. The event was designed to provide state-of-the-art, research-based information to participants regarding biomass production and related systems.

Day one, Oct. 25, was organized as a traditional field day and held at Color Wheel Farm. Owners Brad and Kim Black, recipients of the 2010 Tennessee Farmer of the Year Award and participants in the University’s switchgrass production program, showed off their healthy stands of switchgrass —some 292 acres of various varieties.

Their fields also hosted five speaking tours focused on topics from biomass agronomics, to environmental sustainability and market development as well as mowing, baling, and raking equipment demonstrations from several different manufacturers.

Participants were also able to see three varieties of switchgrass in full production.

Kelly Tiller, president and CEO of Genera Energy and a professor of agricultural economics at UT, was among the luncheon speakers. Tiller shared with the crowd her assessments of the current state of the biofuels industry in the state and region and concluded that the area is well positioned for success.