In the long run, however, to market switchgrass as a biofuel, farmers will have to be able to price it competitively with coal.
Also, coal burners, such as power plants, will require the grass in a format they can transport to their plants and burn along with coal. That is where companies like Midwestern Biofuels come in.
Midwestern, a new company slated to go into full production next year, processes the grass into large pellets that power plants can use.
Smith figures it will take five to 10 years to fully develop the production and processing potential of the grass.
MIKE JAMES can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (606) 326-2652.