Farmers can produce using \"marginal land\" with other crops

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COLUMBIA - Experts talk about renewable energy methods at the Advancing Renewable in the Midwest conference Tuesday.

Dr. Shibu Jose spoke at the conference about revitalizing the Missouri and Mississippi rivers using bio-energy production. 

"If you look at the Mississippi and Missouri river corridor, we do have a lot of productive land along that corridor that provides us the food," Jose said.

He said 116 million acres in the Missouri and Mississippi river corridors are classified as "marginal land" that is flooded or stricken with drought too often to grow traditional crops like corn.

"[The land] is marginal for our conventional agricultural crop production, but perhaps not so marginal for other crops that can be the feedstock for an emerging bio-based economy," Jose said.

He said plants like Cottonwoods, Switch Grass or Big Bluestem can thrive in harsher conditions.

"These grasses and trees can grow and farmers can harvest and they can sell that in a market where those cellulosic materials can be converted to bio-fuels or they can be burned for combined heat and power," Jose said.

Clean Jobs Midwest released a report in March stating the amount of jobs in Missouri's energy efficiency industry is expected to grow by 8.3% over the next 12 months. That's the highest rate in the region.