Conference Will Tell How America's Bioeconomy Can Clean the Planet

Conference Will Tell How America's Bioeconomy Can Clean the Planet

"Growing the Bioeconomy: Solutions for Sustainability" on Dec. 1, 2009 will share how that might be done.

Agriculture's contribution to carbon footprinting and greenhouse gasses is pointed out in headlines regularly these days. But 12 Midwest universities are collaborating to host a virtual conference that rewrites the headlines and suggests that agriculture can clean the planet.

"Growing the Bioeconomy: Solutions for Sustainability" on Dec. 1, 2009 will share how that might be done. "This conference will feature speakers offering solutions for sustainability," says Paul Brown, assistant director for Iowa State University Extension to Agriculture and Natural Resources and conference chairperson.

"Keynote speaker James Lovelock is one of the world's most renowned thinkers on global environmental science. He calls upon farmers to convert agricultural residues to biochar, to be used for incorporation into the soil as the solution to global climate change."

Lovelock's presentation will be delivered via live feed to all participants. The morning plenary session also will include presentations by Johannes Lehmann, associate professor of soil fertility management and soil biogeochemistry at Cornell University, and Matt Liebman, Wallace Chair for sustainable agriculture at Iowa State University. Lehmann will discuss the combined benefit of biochar (charcoal created by the chemical decomposition of biomass) for carbon sequestration and improved soil fertility. Liebman will present research findings on integrating conservation with biofuel feedstock production.

This is the 7th bioeconomy conference ISU has hosted

"This is the seventh bioeconomy conference Iowa State University has hosted, but the first time ISU has collaborated with 11 other universities to simultaneously hold the conference," says Brown. "Last year ISU conference participants came from 23 states, and for the past few years other state universities have organized conferences with a biobased theme. It just made sense to form an alliance and work together instead of competing and repeating efforts."

The first Ames conference, held in 2002, was an introduction to bioeconomy – the term and concepts – according to Jill Euken, ISU Bioeconomy Institute program director who has been involved in planning all the ISU conferences. Conferences the following years increased the interest and participation in the bioeconomy by exploring economic development opportunities and sharing most current research. "We have gone from creating awareness in the state to generating Midwest regional enthusiasm for the possibilities provided by biobased industry and business," Euken says.

How you can register and take part in this conference

From Wyoming to Ohio and Minnesota to Kansas, universities will co-host this year's conference sites and share content through high-speed communication systems. Participants have the option of attending at a state sponsored site, signing on as a corporate location or logging into the conference from any place in the world. Iowa State University is managing the conference registration and virtual conference technology. Specific information about participation options and conference registration are available at

Conference co-hosts University of Nebraska, Michigan State University, North Dakota State University  and Purdue University are organizing and e-hosting the afternoon concurrent sessions. The session begins at 1 p.m. and offers two tracks – net greenhouse gas emission from biofuel systems, hosted by UN; and non-traditional feedstocks, hosted by MSU. 

The second concurrent session begins at 3:30 and covers topics related to advances and breakthroughs in biofuels, hosted by NDSU; and bioenergy economic and policy issues, hosted by Purdue. All tracks have four speakers; speaker and topic details are available at

Additional conference partners include Kansas State University, Ohio State University, South Dakota State University, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri, University of Wisconsin, University of Wyoming, North Central Bioeconomy Consortium and North Central Sun Grant Initiative. Additional conference information is available at

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