Alternative energy and specifically bio fuels have been an increasingly hot topic of conversation from family dinner table discussions all the way up through White House debates. Amidst all this talk, there’s a Kubota dealership and an energy company located in the small town of Conneaut, OH that are making big things happen in the world of bio fuels. With a bit of government funding, a lot of determination and a few Kubota tractors, everyday access to bio fuels can be closer than we think.
Conneaut, OH is one of four project areas in the Midwest that has been selected to receive the Biomas Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) grant from the U.S. Government. The grant helps to fund the growth of Miscanthus, a special grass which can be harvested to develop bio fuels. Conneaut is also home to Aloterra Energy, an energy company with a goal to establish biomass conversion facilities, and Bortnik Tractor Sales, who has partnered with Aloterra through the years to provide expertise and equipment to grow and harvest Miscanthus crops.
The task at hand? Harvest upwards of 50,000 acres of Miscanthus over the next four-to-five years and use the crop to develop bio fuels as an alternative energy source for the local community. Jon Griswold, CEO of Aloterra Energy, has been working on the BCAP grants and increasing Conneaut’s Miscanthus crops for the past two years, and he’s using Kubota tractors to make it happen.
"Miscanthus crops are a very big deal for our country,” said Griswold. "From using the grass to reduce pollution levels to building and making consumer products, the possibilities are endless and yield great economic and social benefits.
"Not only do you need optimal growing conditions for large Miscanthus crops, but you need hard-working equipment to work the land every day,” Griswold continued. "We’ve partnered with Dana at Bortnick Tractor Sales who has treated us right from the beginning. Kubota’s equipment has proven itself to be capable and reliable.”
Conneaut’s Ashtabula County is one of the largest hay and forage areas in Ohio. That, paired with ideal weather patterns, heavy soil, sufficient work forces and reliable transportation in and out of town, made Conneaut a natural fit for raising large quantities of Miscanthus. Just as Conneaut was a natural fit for growing Miscanthus, Griswold has deemed his two Kubota M135X tractors, a natural fit to cultivate and harvest the crop.
The endeavor has been mutually beneficial for Dana Harju, President of Bortnick Tractor Sales, and his team at the dealership. "There’s a lot of talk around town and an overall sense of excitement for what’s to come,” said Harju. "We’re proud to have our orange tractors out in the Miscanthus fields and are looking forward to growing with the rest of the Conneaut community as we move forward on this groundbreaking project.”
With the help of his Kubota M135X tractors and a continued relationship with the team at Bortnick Tractor Sales, Griswold plans to expand his operation from growing 5,000 acres of Miscanthus in 2011 to 10,000 acres in 2012, and upwards of 50,000 acres over the next four-to-five years.
"We’re taking idle ground here in Conneaut and turning it into something hugely beneficial to the local community and the global environment, and Kubota is our first choice in equipment to help us along the way,” said Griswold.
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