A group of Illinois farmers and their counterparts from Germany shared ideas recently on how both might be able to grow income by generating energy on farms. Illinois Farm Bureau and the Chicago-based German American Chambers of Commerce held a rural energy and economic development roundtable in Bloomington. Jochen (Yolk-HEN) Oestmann (OOST-men) farms in northern Germany and generates renewable natural gas on his farm;
Laws in Germany requires utility companies to buy most energy generated on farms and OOST-man says it adds to his revenue stream. Champaign County farmer Eric Rund shared his experience growing miscanthus (MIS-can-thus gigantus (JYE-gan-tus) and you guessed it -- it's a tall grass that can be cleanly burned to create energy;
Rund has a new customer for his MIS-can-thus. The University of Illinois imported a boiler from Germany that can burn the tall grass and heat a greenhouse on the Urbana-Champaign Energy Farm.