Researchers from Michigan Technological University’s School of Forestry started gathering data in 2010 in order to determine the best types of biofuel crops to be grown on idle lands in Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula.  They started several hybrid willow test plots in 2011 in Ontonagon County and will continue to monitor biofuel crop progress at these sites.  A research report was developed earlier this year outlining the opportunities and details in turning idle land into biofuel crop producing land.

Following is an excerpt from that research report:

There is a tremendous potential in the United States to produce energy and transportation fuels locally, from renewable forms of forest and agriculture biomass (U.S. Department of Energy 2011). Sourcing energy locally means that jobs, dollars and economic activity remain in the region, enhancing the social and economic sustainability. Biomass energy also means that production can shift from fossil sources to green, carbon-neutral and environmentally sustainable sources. Together, these approaches act synergistically to increase both energy security and energy sustainability.

Forests dominate the landscape in the western Upper Peninsula, but there is a significant component of retired farmland that is currently not in production for a commercial crop. We estimate the retired agriculture landbase to be over 56,000 acres within a 60-mile transport distance from Ontonagon, MI, with about half of this within just 30 miles.

To view the full report: Energy Crop Opportunities in the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan click here.

To learn more about each potential biofuel crop that can be grown in the Upper Peninsula please click on a link below.


 Hybrid Poplar        Shrub Willow        Switchgrass