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SUNY Potsdam biology major Stefan Sloma and professor Robert Ewy at the school's willow stand in Potsdam.
SUNY Potsdam biology major Stefan Sloma and professor Robert Ewy at the school's willow stand in Potsdam.

Growing willows for fuel

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This summer, NCPR is taking a second look at the realities of alternative and renewable energy in our region. Some advocates think locally-generated energy, from hydro to solar to wind and biomass, could be the next big thing for the region's economy.

Biologists at SUNY Potsdam plan to harvest their first crop of shrub willows from a field near campus this fall. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has earmarked $4.3 million to encourage North Country farmers to grow willows as a renewable energy source.

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Todd Moe
Morning Host and Producer

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SUNY Potsdam biology professor Robert Ewy says willows grow readily in areas with enough moisture, like upstate New York, and are valued among other woods for their easy cultivation and high energy yields, when used as a fuel.  The Potsdam plot contains sixteen varieties of shrub willows as part of a yield trial project.   Biology students have been studying the effects of weather, soil nutrients and pests on each variety to see what grows best on marginal lands. 

Todd Moe visited the stand of willows and spoke with biology professor Robert Ewy and one of his students about their research.

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