With NEWBio drawing to a close, Project Manager Barbara Kinne reflects on the accomplishments of the team.
“Knowing what the project set out to do — build robust value chains for biomass — I’d say we’ve met that goal in a number of ways. One tangible success is the development at Cornell of high-yielding willow feed stocks. One cultivar has received a patent and several others have been submitted to the U.S. Patent Office,” Kinne said. “We’ve increased our understanding of the environmental, economic and emotional considerations that landowners focus on when pursuing marketable crops for their fields, and helped industrial manufacturers with the challenges they face in refining their planting and harvesting equipment.”
An important NEWBio goal was to identify options where bioenergy crops could improve environmental outcomes without competing with food production. One was floodplains and buffers along streams where these crops can improve water quality; a second was to utilize abandoned and marginal lands left behind by the agriculture and coal industry. The patented high-yielding willow and various warm-season grasses can help accomplish both, and breathe vitality into former strip-mine lands and waterways across the region.
NEWBio is one of seven USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grants in the country.
In addition to Richard and Kinne, there have been 15 Penn State faculty collaborators from the colleges of Agricultural Sciences, Education, Medicine, and Smeal, and Penn State Extension working on the NEWBio team. Altogether, 120 team members participated in the consortium and its activities over the five-year life of the project.
NEWBio’s consortium includes the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Cornell University, Ohio State University, Delaware State University, Rutgers University, Drexel University, University of Vermont, SUNY-ESF, West Virginia University, Idaho National Laboratory, USDA-ARS, University of Maine and Stony Brook University.