What To Do With Wheat Straw
I’m Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.
For generations farmers have either had to burn, bale, or till left over wheat straw. Burning is quickly becoming a non-option, as most states have either implemented air quality control laws that ban such burning, or are in the process of doing so. Columbia Pulp’s CEO, John Begley, says another option for farmers is in the works, a project that will utilize wheat straw to make valuable products.
BEGLEY: It really goes back 20 years to the State of Washington looking to address the field burning issue, and they formed a ag burning task force at that time to figure out how they could reduce the amount of burning that was going on in the field, and at the same time not penalize the growers.
Begley says the project has gone through many different phases over the years.
BEGELY: Thirteen or fourteen years ago a couple of scientists got involved who were experienced in pulp and paper technology, and they’ve been working on developing a process to utilize the wheat straw to make commercial market pulp. And that’s kind of where we’ve landed on at this point in time - taking that residual from the wheat growers and producing a commercial market pulp.
Begley, who has worked within the pulp and paper industry for most of his career, has been involved with the project for the past year.
BEGLEY: I have know these two scientists over the years. We actually worked together at Weyerhaeuser. And they came to me and asked me if I would help them bring this process to fruition.
To start with they acquired a 450 acre site on the Snake River between the Lyons Ferry bridge and the town of Starbuck. Tomorrow Begley will discuss this new industry of turning wheat straw into valuable products, that he says will be well worth the farmers’ time and effort.
That’s Washington Ag Today.
I’m Lacy Gray on the Ag Information Network.