Ontario’s emerging bioeconomy is opening new markets for Ontario farmers and Ontario-grown products. A bioeconomy is a system that replaces fossil fuel based carbon with plant based carbon – converting crops like corn stalk, wheat straw, miscanthus and switchgrass into feed, fuel, bioenergy and other bio-based products.
Ontario is well positioned to support a bioeconomy with resources, innovation and drive to achieve. A bioeconomy gives Ontario farmers the opportunity to sustainably harvest fibre crops and be part of an emerging supply chain.
OFA has assisted in feasibility studies associated with crop residue collection and biomass crop production in Ontario. This includes recommended amounts of residue removal and effective processes for collection and transportation. Excessive residue removal must not occur to ensure that enough residue is being incorporated back into the soil to improve soil health.
Ontario’s bio-industry cluster has already begun to provide opportunities to farmers through a Cellulosic Sugar Producers Co-operative, which was created through a partnership with Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, Comet Bio Refining, and BioAmber. This initiative was supported through Growing Forward 2 as an Agri-Science Cluster Project.
The co-operative looks to collect over 50,000 tonnes of corn stover biomass annually from approximately 700,000 acres yielding over 150 bu/ac in southwestern Ontario. Approximately 26,500 tonnes of wheat straw will also be collected as feedstock for Comet Bio Refining.
Crop residue after harvest has been accumulating with increased yields. Surplus residues can be used as feedstock to be processed into bio- products, plastics, fuels, or gas. Low input biomass crops, such as miscanthus and switchgrass, can also be grown to feedstock Ontario’s growing bioeconomy. Other markets also exist for these products, including bedding, heating, and composting.
OFA supports scaling-up Ontario’s bioeconomy to increase opportunity and diversity for Ontario farmers.
OFA also supports the production of renewable natural gas, on farm or in clusters throughout the province. OFA will continue to support further opportunity for farmers in Ontario’s bioeconomy through further research and innovation, funding opportunities, policy frameworks, and scaling up of the industry.
Investment in this project has been provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP). In Ontario, this program is delivered by the Agricultural Adaptation Council.