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Published November 09, 2011, 03:36 AM

U of M biofuels researchers team with gardeners

ST. PAUL, Minn. — University of Minnesota biofuels researchers are teaming up with master gardeners in the school’s extension service.

ST. PAUL, Minn. — University of Minnesota biofuels researchers are teaming up with master gardeners in the school’s extension service.

They’re seeking to find out whether biofuel production can reduce water and nutrient runoff from farm fields, cut down on erosion and turn a profit for farmers who grow it. They’ll explore that possibility under a five-year, $25 million multistate grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The nationwide research will focus on using perennial grasses as a feedstock for biofuels. The Minnesota research will test biochar — a nutrient-rich leftover from using heat to convert the biomass into fuel — as a soil amendment. The master gardeners will test biochar’s ability to increase productivity in vegetable and flower gardens, and determine its viability as a commercial product for home gardeners.

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