The day has officially arrived to launch the 2011 Northeast Iowa Biomass Asset Map, a project we've been working on with many partners over the last few months. Text to the press release follows:
Des Moines, IA, February 10, 2011 - Decision Innovation Solutions (DIS), an economic research company focused on being a catalyst for improved decision-making, announced that the company has developed and launched a free interactive, web-based mapping tool which details estimated biomass inventories in specified regions.
To make critical business decisions having a direct impact on profitability, leaders in the biomass industry need to know the potential inventory of biomass in geographic areas. The 2011 Northeast Iowa Biomass Asset Map can provide this key information by simply answering these questions: Where's the biomass delivery point? What type of biomass? How much will you pay? How far will you travel? What incentives are available?
To get started, a person simply goes to www.decision-innovation.com/biomass.html and after answering the above questions, a map and report are generated. The map highlights the geographic areas where the biomass could potentially be sourced. The report also identifies the number of acres that could potentially switch to biomass production and provides the estimated quantity of biomass that would be produced if those acres actually converted to biomass production.
"Farmers, businesses, and public institutions need tools like this to help them make better-informed decisions on the trade-offs between different types of crop production," said Spencer Parkinson, Senior Research Manager with Decision Innovation Solutions. "Biomass is becoming a proven source for energy production, and Iowa is a leader in biomass supply -- but harvesting this biomass comes with a price. A unique aspect of this tool is that for the first time we have a tool which allows us to account for the economic and environmental aspects landowners must consider when deciding how to best use their land. After all, it is ultimately Iowa's landowners who decide what is produced within the state. The more resources we can give farmers and businesses, the more educated we can all become on the impact agriculture has, and will continue to have, on our state," concludes Parkinson.
The development of this mapping tool was made possible, in part, through a $52,500 Rural Business Enterprise Grant from USDA Rural Development to The Iowa Institute. The Iowa Institute used the grant funds to work with Decision Innovation Solutions to develop the map. Additionally, Decision Innovation Solutions collaborated with other key partners in developing this tool including the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the Iowa Energy Center at Iowa State University. For this initial launch, the tool is available to 11 northeast Iowa counties, but the strategy is to bring this service to all of Iowa's 99 counties in the near future.
"USDA Rural Development is pleased to have a role in this outstanding project that will help identify opportunities with biomass," said Bill Menner, Iowa's USDA Rural Development Director. "Using biomass as a renewable energy source supports a key USDA pillar by helping create good paying jobs in our rural communities, working against the threat of global climate change, and helping end our nation's dependence on foreign oil."
Norm Olson with the Iowa Energy Center at Iowa State University added, "A high quality resource assessment process will be crucial to the success of Iowa's promising, new bio-economy and this Biomass Asset Map is an excellent tool that delivers this much needed information."