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NY Times article on biofuels and greenhouse gases
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All plants absorb CO2, even in a rainforest, the process is called photosynthesis.



 
Location: coldest N.America | Registered: May 03, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Old growth forest does absorb less carbon from the atmosphere than new growth forest (carbon is converted to woody plant very quick in new growth), the problem is that the old forest is not replaced with forest, it is replaced with monoculture. No shrubs, or weeds or any other plants to grow between the nicely placed crop rows. No different layers of canopy, no diversity. Plus, it is true that switch grass or palm or what ever other crop is grown to be converted into biofuels does grow much quicker than the forest. But....when it is harvested and converted into fuel and then burned releasing the carbon back into the atmosphere there is NO sink effect (well technically there is a minute sink via the roots that were left under the soil after the crops were harvested but that doesn't count for squat). So, negating any fossil fuels to harvest, transport, refine, etc the crops into fuel and petroleum turned into fertilizer or what was done with all the wood that WAS the old forest, there is basically a net negative for the carbon sink ability of the area that used to be covered with forest (went from a carbon sink to no sink).

quote:
When we slash and burn a forrest we are merely changing the form of carbon that is a part of environment already.


Actually the carbon that is released when a forest is slashed and burned is considered out of the carbon cycle...in a carbon sink just like oil. The carbon that is released has been locked up in the form of woody plant for who knows how many (thousands, millions?) of years either in the form of wood as a live tree or absorbed by the tree that eventually takes it's place; you know, the closed system you mention...us removing the forest by what ever means we do OPENS the system.


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Location: Woodstock, IL | Registered: May 28, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The carbon that is released has been locked up in the form of woody plant for who knows how many (thousands, millions?) of years either in the form of wood as a live tree or absorbed by the tree that eventually takes it's place


1000's or millions of years????

lets suppose for the sake of argument we have a 100 square foot (10x10) planter box.

there is a large "rain forrest" tree in the middle, a vine climbing the tree, and a few lower growth shrubs. the planter is full.

If you kept this box under scrutiny over a long period of time, your tree would die and collapse into the box taking the vine with it. The bugs and mold would eat the tree all gone rather quickly. In a rain forrest probably less than five years.

Quickly a new tree would begin to grow and in thirty years you'd have another large tree with a vine creeping up the side of it.

This is a cycle and it lasts between one and two hundred years on average. Some species may live even longer... but most trees are not lebanese pines or california redwoods that were here when christ walked the earth.

The vast bulk of the carbon up take occurs as the tree is growing. Once the tree matures it will spend the majority of its life cycle in a maintenance program (very slow growth and replacing leaves).

ARGUMENT:

rather I cut the tree down, burn the tree down, or leave it to rot the tree will not be in the forrest for 1000's or millions of years.

now removing the tree and planting grass for cows to eat is not the best idea and I see the problem there... but...

repeatedly planting and harvesting switch grass or bamboo over a period of a hundred years, I believe, will equate to more pounds of "carbon-up take growth" than the one tree.

Bamboo times 100 years > or = to 1 tree for 100 years.

plants are like electric storage batteries for carbon.

bare ground and empty batteries can be charged or used as storage.

Once "full" its full... you can't cram more into the same space. you can only maintain what you have.

My point here has been and is... the report is propaganda going on the theory of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"

True hard core tree hugger environmentalists don't want people expanding into the rain forrests. (we are going to)

True oil execs/power meisters don't want people getting energy from biology or rain forrests. (we are going to)

Environmentalists want trees left alone, you'll kill the planets lungs.

Power gurus want to sell oil, coal, locked hydro carbons. It's their living and screw global warming.

Me... I want cheap power. Feed the the treehuggers to the oil execs and then shoot the oil execs.

I'd much rather my energy expenses be used on renewables and hopefully help eliminate some third world poverty rather than continually lining the pockets of big oil.

I'm also for decreasing the surplus population thru education and not starvation tactics.

The war isn't for control of your mind, they don't care what you think, it is a war for control of your labor and finances.


Though your argument is very clever, I don't think it will lead to the results you desire. gandhi
 
Location: iowa | Registered: December 19, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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or leave it to rot the tree will not be in the forrest for 1000's or millions of years.


Well you're right it's not millions, thats why I put a question sank next to it when I first wrote it. It IS however 1000s. Using your planter box analogy, when the plants die, "The bugs and mold would eat the tree". As the tree rots and is eaten a large part of what used to be a tree turns into soil, which will continue to store some the the tree's carbon for quite some time after said tree is dead. The carbon that was released into the atmosphere as it rots it taken back up by the tree that grows in it's place. This is why large forests are carbon sinks, like you say "plants are like electric storage batteries for carbon."

Now if you convert a once lush forest into crop land for fuel crops(not even taking into account for what you do with the wood from the forest) very little of the plant is turned into soil and most if it is burned (as fuel) releasing the carbon into the atmosphere. At best you will have a net zero in carbon release/storage because next year's crop will reabsorb what was released. However you will never be able to sink as much carbon in the crops as was in the forest. This is from the lack of density and diversity in the forest compared to the cropland.

"Carbon is transferred within the biosphere as heterotrophs feed on other organisms or their parts (e.g., fruits). This includes the uptake of dead organic material (detritus) by fungi and bacteria for fermentation or decay."

"Carbon storage in the biosphere is influenced by a number of processes on different time-scales: while net primary productivity follows a diurnal and seasonal cycle, carbon can be stored up to several hundreds of years in trees and up to thousands of years in soils. Changes in those long term carbon pools (e.g. through de- or afforestation or through temperature-related changes in soil respiration) may thus affect global climate change."

These quotes are from wikipedia: carbon cycle
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_cycle

quote:
repeatedly planting and harvesting switch grass or bamboo over a period of a hundred years, I believe, will equate to more pounds of "carbon-up take growth" than the one tree.


You won't have 'more pounds of "carbon-up take growth"' because a plant can't intake more carbon than it releases when it is burned as fuel.

Boy does this sound strangely familiar to my previous post Roll Eyes


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Everyone Should Read "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn
 
Location: Woodstock, IL | Registered: May 28, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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It IS however 1000s. Using your planter box analogy, when the plants die, "The bugs and mold would eat the tree". As the tree rots and is eaten a large part of what used to be a tree turns into soil, which will continue to store some the the tree's carbon for quite some time after said tree is dead. The carbon that was released into the atmosphere as it rots it taken back up by the tree that grows in it's place. This is why large forests are carbon sinks, like you say "plants are like electric storage batteries for carbon."


you don't destroy the "carbon sink" soil by cutting down the tree.

the bolded portion of the quote:
yes the soil will hold said tree carbon for a period of time. -but- as a "new" tree grows this carbon is removed from the soil or rather transferred to the new tree. -or- new crop substitute bamboo in place of tree.

quote:
Now if you convert a once lush forest into crop land for fuel crops <snip> very little of the plant is turned into soil and most if it is burned (as fuel) releasing the carbon into the atmosphere. At best you will have a net zero in carbon release/storage because next year's crop will reabsorb what was released. However you will never be able to sink as much carbon in the crops as was in the forest. This is from the lack of density and diversity in the forest compared to the cropland.
I don't know what the above ground portion of a forrest weighs per square foot, but I've been to south america and the majority of it is not as dense as you may think. travel on foot isn't hard because you are hacking your way thru the bush like on t.v. most of it is walking up and down the slopes which is very tiring. In any case, IMO, annual "new growth" numbers are higher and denser for crops than they are for natural forrest.

quote:
"sic" carbon stored up to several hundreds of years in trees and up to thousands of years in soils.
I agree, -but- cutting down the tree is not scraping the soil to clay.

quote:
Boy does this sound strangely familiar to my previous post
ditto Wink

will it make you feel better if I add I'm not in favor of trashing ye old raine forrest anyways.

this is part of the propaganda agenda. slash the rainforrest studies are a worst case example.

how's about we start out with energy crop landing the west texas desert instead???

designate fossil free fuels as tax exempt

add a tax to petroleum products including plastics that are used for any other purpose other than producing renewable resources.

subsidizing true hybrid commuter cars for the masses. veg oil, ethanol, electric, hydrogen with no use of non renewable resources.

making a real push for solar and wind generation in mandated efficient housing.

dropping the speed limit to 50 mph for energy reasons and not safety.

and of course working for world peace Big Grin

cheap energy and curbed population explosion thru education...

If the population doulbles two more times we won't need to worry about fighting over oil... we'll be fighting over food.


Though your argument is very clever, I don't think it will lead to the results you desire. gandhi
 
Location: iowa | Registered: December 19, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Those are all good suggestions. If we had started down that path back in the 70s like so many were suggesting at the time, then we wouldn't be in the bind we are now.

The problem with trying to grow anything in W Texas is lack of water. The US has significantly depleted the groundwater supply with decades of irrigated monoculture. Water is going to be the limiting factor for any fuel crop.

Why has world peace been so difficult to achieve throughout human history?



 
Location: coldest N.America | Registered: May 03, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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I agree, -but- cutting down the tree is not scraping the soil to clay.


Right but if the plant mass is harvested and converted into fuel and burned, it is not allowed to decay and become soil. Thus, more carbon is released as atmospheric CO2 instead of being sequestered as soil.

I was just responding in general to the statement: "A mature rain forrest "DOES NOT ABSORB" co2."

The carbon it uses for photosynthesis and that is released when the plant dies in a large forest is in balance so no net absorption in old growth. But...it ALREADY HAS absorbed the carbon. The point I was trying to make is that by replacing old growth with new growth you're not gaining anything.

I definitely agree with all your ideas (except the lowering the speed limit Big Grin, just mandate MUCH more efficient vehicles. With so little time these days people don't want to spend more time driving). I am a biofuels fan or I wouldn't be here, there just needs to be a more efficient way of doing it until we come up with the next long term source of energy. The algae and bacteria that are fed garbage options look quite promising. You should listen to the science Friday link I posted earlier in this thread; some very interesting stuff about these two technologies.


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Location: Woodstock, IL | Registered: May 28, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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john
quote:
Why has world peace been so difficult to achieve throughout human history?
the seven deadly sins...


wewantutopia-
quote:
Right but if the plant mass is harvested and converted into fuel and burned, it is not allowed to decay and become soil. Thus, more carbon is released as atmospheric CO2 instead of being sequestered as soil.
true and I see your point there.
I guess in a way my idealism is saying... stop oil then do plants... realistically we won't stop oil until every last drop is squeezed out.

quote:
I definitely agree with all your ideas (except the lowering the speed limit
I race a supercharged gas dragster in the summer... so, yeah, that's my least favorite also... hehe

quote:
The algae and bacteria that are fed garbage options look quite promising. You should listen to the science Friday link I posted earlier in this thread; some very interesting stuff about these two technologies.
I heard that one live... good'ol ira...
big fan of npr...

I hope Iowa will become a leader in the new energy technologies. We've done well thus far bringing the technology to the state with implimenting solar and wind projects. Haven't had as much luck on the manufacturing side as yet, though there is a new company building props for wind generators.

We've built an ethanol plant ever 40 miles across the state. (not personally a big fan of food to fuel programs)

The local university is working with a guy on a new biodiesel process... still food for fuel... idiots.

and... lots of new cellulose experiments going on.

still no room temp fusion... doh, wouldn't that be a gift...

could be worse... I suppose... at least I'm a fat loud mouthed american instead a poor 3rd world indigent... Smile


Though your argument is very clever, I don't think it will lead to the results you desire. gandhi
 
Location: iowa | Registered: December 19, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:

Originally posted by im6under:

Further, this study and others (some financed by coal advocates) are always careful to quote "burning" numbers, when in actuality the forrest doesn't need to be burned. It could be cut and removed.



While it does nto need to be burned, it is. It is much easier to knock trees over and burn them , or just burn them than it is to take them elsewhere. It is much much easier to burn trash than to get rid of it responsibly. Especially when that elsewhere that it could be taken is not the curb.

So you say that the trees don't have to be burned, but the fact is that they are burned.


Bill

The more I learn, the more I realize just how much more I need to learn.
 
Location: Maryland, United States | Registered: December 19, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think in trying to argue what will use more CO2 over 100 years, an acre of trees or an acre of bamboo, I think we could just come up with an average usage rate for the tree, then compare it to an average usage rate for bamboo.

If the average usage rate for the tree is equal to the usage rate for a medium sized (50 feet tall) tree, and the bamboo for say 15 foot tall bamboo, I think I'd go with the towering tree. I don't have numbers, but I can't imaginethe bamboo outperformaing the tree.

To compound this, the rainforest has many layers of trees. Rainforests are extremely compact. There are tall trees with shorter ones living underneath, then scrub living under that, etc... The entire air space under the canopy is full of life. I'm not sure how high those trees get, but I'd imagine a 50 foot tall tree could be used as an average since I know some exceed 100 feet easily.

I don't have numbers, just intuition, but I'd have trouble believing that any agricultural crop could match the CO2 soaking abaility of a rainforest.


Bill

The more I learn, the more I realize just how much more I need to learn.
 
Location: Maryland, United States | Registered: December 19, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
quote:
Why has world peace been so difficult to achieve throughout human history?

the seven deadly sins...


True, but why is it that some cultures in some parts of the world seem to get beyond that, while others have been warring for centuries. There's more to it than 'just human nature'.

Most of the problems seem to occur in the hot parts of the world where women do all the work feeding the tribe, leaving men with little to do but cause trouble.



 
Location: coldest N.America | Registered: May 03, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I can't imaginethe bamboo outperformaing the tree.

bamboo in my recollection grows about a foot per day. As in tie you over the top of sharpened bamboo and it will grow right through you. the asian equivalent of impaling someone.

you still could be right? I haven't researched it but my intuition says some things, like bamboo, grow so fast and tightly compacted that it will out pace the forrest.

what we really need is mushroom or fungus power... in a hardwood. Big Grin

anyways... good points all... and good luck to all


Though your argument is very clever, I don't think it will lead to the results you desire. gandhi
 
Location: iowa | Registered: December 19, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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john... I'm ignoring your wisdom and pleading the 5th... ; )


Though your argument is very clever, I don't think it will lead to the results you desire. gandhi
 
Location: iowa | Registered: December 19, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'd vote kudzu. It's edible, medicinal, incredibly fast growing, and very nearly unkillable. Plus as a legume, it fertilizes the ground it grows on, making the soil richer. It has a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen fixing bacteria in its roots, so unlike corn that needs lots of (predominantly petroleum derived) fertilizer, the kudzu makes its own out of the nitrogen in the air, thus fertilizing otherwise poor soils.

In Asia it is a valued food crop and source for herbal remedies. Here, we call it a weed and have nearly given up fighting it. We got our arses kicked. It is incredibly tenacious, and grows a foot a day. We've already got 8 million acres covered in this unstoppable stuff, why not just keep harvesting it? The leaves are edible to both humans and cattle, the flowers / seed pods makes a sweet fruity substance said to be halfway between grape coolaid and honey, and the tuberous roots can grow to become several hundred pounds worth of pure starch.

From the biofuel angle, the woody stems can be gassified, thermally or catalytically depolymerized into oil, or used as cellulostic ethanol feedstock (once they make that process economically viable).

From a carbon sequestration angle, something that grows that fast is sponging CO2 out of the atmosphere at a fantastic rate, turning the carbon in carbon dioxide into more kudzu. That's where all the woody stems and leaves come from. Solidified carbon dioxide with the 'dioxide' part released, and the carbon part bound up. Instead of a weed, it may instead be a valuable renewable natural (and national) resource.


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Registered: December 31, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'd vote kudzu. It's edible, medicinal, incredibly fast growing, and very nearly unkillable. Plus as a legume, it fertilizes the ground it grows on, making the soil richer. It has a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen fixing bacteria in its roots, so unlike corn that needs lots of (predominantly petroleum derived) fertilizer, the kudzu makes its own out of the nitrogen in the air, thus fertilizing otherwise poor soils.

In Asia it is a valued food crop and source for herbal remedies. Here, we call it a weed and have nearly given up fighting it. We got our arses kicked. It is incredibly tenacious, and grows a foot a day. We've already got 8 million acres covered in this unstoppable stuff, why not just keep harvesting it? The leaves are edible to both humans and cattle, the flowers / seed pods makes a sweet fruity substance said to be halfway between grape coolaid and honey, and the tuberous roots can grow to become several hundred pounds worth of pure starch.

From the biofuel angle, the woody stems can be gassified, thermally or catalytically depolymerized into oil, or used as cellulostic ethanol feedstock (once they make that process economically viable).

From a carbon sequestration angle, something that grows that fast is sponging CO2 out of the atmosphere at a fantastic rate, turning the carbon in carbon dioxide into more kudzu. That's where all the woody stems and leaves come from. Solidified carbon dioxide with the 'dioxide' part released, and the carbon part bound up. Instead of a weed, it may instead be a valuable renewable natural (and national) resource.



I'm glad you posted that Burb. I had heard of Kudzu about 15 years ago, but I've never actually seen it. I certainly didn't know it was nitrogen fixing, or produced starchy tubers.

Are the huge tubers really long and skinny like 20 yard long shoelaces, or are they thicker in diameter and shorter? The reason I ask this is that if they are more like potatos or Yams, then maybe Kudzu could actually play a part in the answer were looking for.

How thirsty is Kudzu? Can it survive arid environments? Even if it can, I'm betting the growth rate will be slowed for lack of water. This would be a good thing. I'm imagining rows of tightly cultured pine trees being only planted as small seedlings then left to fend for themselves. The only "cultured" bit is where a guy drives a tractor pulling a tree branch combine down the rows every 2 or 3 years to harvest the turps for gas engines. If the Kudzu was able to handle some dry soils, then it could be companion planted in beteen the pine trees where every year or 2 a guy would drive a tractor pulling a Kudzu harvesting combine down between the pine rows harvesting everything except the soil. The tubers and seed pods could be ground up for aquaculture and livestock feed, while the cellulose would become cellulosic ethanol.

If I've got the companion planting strategy wrong, maybe the semi-wild pines would offer enough shade to semi-wild canola so the canola might tolerate drier conditions. If shading canola still won't do the trick, then maybe pines and Jatropha.

The Kudzu could be grown with African oil palm. I just didn't want Kudzu left wher it could get enough natural water supplied to overwhelm the existing ecosystem. I was hoping it might be somwhat desert hardy so it's boundaries could be trimmed back some when it got too agressive. I figured maybe drier soil would help slow it down enough to be manageable while still yeilding good benefits like natural nitrogen fertilization, starchy tubers, protien seeds and cellulose for ethanol.


Maybe we should just throw caution to the wind and splice the salt tolerance gene from kelp and the nitrogen fixing gene from kudzu and the drought tolerance gene from tumbleweeds into canola and grow Frankenfuel with solar pumped seawater everywhere the groundwater is already polluted. At least that way we can grow fuel without using drinkable water.
 
Registered: September 26, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Now there's some good ideas. If we could get decision-makers to also start thinking outside the box, and working to solve the problem instead of working to make more money from industrial agriculture mono-culture, then we could actually turn this problem around and seriously reduce pollution. The synergistic benefits of companion planting are the answer to a lot of our ag problems.



 
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kudzu is an invasive vine with a large leaf. It grows waist deep on the ground until it finds a tree which it climbs and kills/ chokes out.

used to live in n.e. alabama : )

Kinda pretty and near impossible to kill.


Though your argument is very clever, I don't think it will lead to the results you desire. gandhi
 
Location: iowa | Registered: December 19, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Here's a Mother Earth News article on kudzu:
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/1979-0...udzu-Connection.aspx

And another link with some more info:
http://www.herbsarespecial.com.au/free-herb-information/kudzu.html

Roots can grow to 400lbs, 8in or more in diameter, and down to 12ft deep. This partially explains why it's so hard to kill, as you could eradicate all the stems and leaves and it will still grow back due to that massive reserve of fuel. It is one of the few plants that continues to grow at night by utilizing stored energy. It doesn't stop when the sun goes down.

Higher starch content than potatoes. Leaves and sprouts more nutritious than alfalfa, and rich in protein.

It may be possible to grow them in big plastic barrels, then just chop off the top, upend the barrel to spill the enriched soil out, and harvest the roots.

It's partially adapted to the New England weather, and has invaded NY, CT, MA. It likes plenty of water and sandy soils, but with its deep taproots, it can withstand drought.

It was primarily planted to control erosion and prevent the south from washing away and turning into a dust bowl. I think everyone agrees that, for those specific purposes, it has been wildly successful.

Probably won't grow as well in dry climates that don't see much rainfall, but it has been used to reclaim desert. As an erosion control and ground cover, it prevents the ground from overheating and creates its own organic soil layer when the leaves drop in winter time and are kept from blowing away by the net of vines. The trapped decomposing leaves holds moisture, and provides a habitat and food for soil enriching organisms. It may need drip irrigation in very dry conditions. Growing it in trellises could provide shade to lower ground and air temperatures.

Welder: It might be illegal to bring into your state. Switchgrass might be a better alternative.

Synergistic effects of co-planting different crops together have been shown to produce excellent results. Definitely a subject with great potential for a multitude of practical applications. The most common argument against multi-species combined planting as opposed to monoculture is increased process complexity, specially during harvesting.

The primary argument in the NY Times article was that biofuels are bad due to encouraging deforestation for the planting of food and fuel crops. That argument is valid, but only for 1st generation sub-optimal feedstock species. Plants that need rich soil, and artificial help in the form of fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation.

If you can tap into the biomass created by fast growing plant species, you can use either the Fischer-Tropsch process or thermal depolymerization to create diesel fuel from inedible wood and farm waste. Ethanol can be made from the same feedstock once the cellulostic proces becomes commercially viable. Or you can use it to create syngas for power generation. Fuel for power and transportation without sacrificing farmland grown for food, or forests.
Algae holds even more promise, and hopefully the slew of startups working on it will make that technology economically viable.

Of course, if you start turning large areas of desert into intensive green fuel factories, the environmentalists will be up in arms for destruction of fragile desert ecosystems...


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kudzu is an invasive vine with a large leaf. It grows waist deep on the ground until it finds a tree which it climbs and kills/ chokes out.



That's why I was thinking that it might be used safely in desert areas. Less water-less growth.

It was said that Kudzu has been used for desert reclamation. I'd like to see someone in a desert area try to plant an area with kudzu, then after it was firmly established, try to kill it off. Likely require digging the roots up. A second root ripping effort may be needed to get the ones missed on the first pass.

I used to work landscaping on the Simon Fraser University trim crew. It was a constant battle of atrition fighting many of the weeds. The worst was this little bastart plant that made beautiful flowers, spread by vines and shot clumps of roots into the ground. Because the roots were multi strand, it was nearly impossible to kill off (no single tap root). Since the ferocious kudzu uses a tuberous tap root, eradication may be possible where the main tap roots can be taken out. Controlled desrt reclamation.

Since Kudzu seems to be a greatly nutricious food source that just doesn't die off and even grows at night, it's like Gods attempt to feed the masses. Reminds me of the Mackenzie brothers famous quote: "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy!" .

Beer from kudzu?
 
Registered: September 26, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Kudzu might be better than hops for making beer...

If you found kudzu at SFU then it's been imported into Canukland, legally?? I'd sure like to try growing it in the far North. Wonder if there's a legal way to get some kudzu seeds to try.

That's one of my favorite Bob & Doug quotes, and I prove it every day.



 
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