Extension’s Fall 2011 woody biomass webinar series

The University of Minnesota Extension will offer 7 web-based seminars, or “webinars” on woody biomass, in fall 2011.  While they do require access to an internet connection, webinars offer the convenience of learning at your home or office, avoiding the time and expense of traveling to a workshop.

Everybody is welcome to attend.  There is no charge, but pre-registration is required in order to obtain webinar connection instructions.

All webinars will be recorded and made available online for later viewing.

Fall 2011 webinar schedule:

August 17, 2011 DONE: Ecological impacts of biomass harvesting: soil as the basis for sustainable management

Dr. Rob Sleasak, Site Level Program Manager, will talk about the ecological impacts of biomass harvesting on soil. Increased utilization of forest biomass for energy removes greater amounts of nutrients from a site than conventional harvests, potentially causing reductions in soil nutrient pools available for growth and concurrent decreases in site productivity.  However, validation of potential impacts has proved elusive, introducing uncertainty on the efficiency and effectiveness of practices designed to maintain soil functions. Dr. Sleasak will focus his talk on those soil properties most likely to be impacted by increased utilization of biomass, the uncertainty and limitations to quantifying any potential impacts, and introduce some practices designed to mitigate impacts to soil functions for a variety of site conditions.

Due to technical problems, no recording is available.


August 31, 2011 DONE.  Woody Biomass Supply and Market Opportunities for Minnesota

As this presentation, Ms. Anna Dirkswager, MN DNR Biomass Coordinator, will cover the scope and scale of available woody biomass resources in MN.  Participants will be provided with an understanding of the current demand of woody biomass materials.  Join Anna as she dives into a discussion of near-term biomass opportunities as well as biomass issues that are constraining market development.

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September 14, 2011 DONE. Biomass Energy Technology Options

Dr. Joel Tallaksen, Biomass Coordinator, University of Minnesota-Morris will review past, present, and future pathways for using biomass as an energy source.   The focus will be on the technologies for converting biomass to energy and the different scales at which these technologies can be used.   The conversation will also focus on how the chemistry of different types of biomass make it better for one technology or another.

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September 28, 2011 DONE: Federal and State Policy Development in Biomass Utilization

Navigating the landscape of state and federal woody biomass policies can be daunting, especially when you consider all the steps in the supply chain.  From harvesting and transportation to manufacturing and consumption, numerous policies influence the manner in which we procure, process and utilize biomass.  This webinar will provide a basic overview of those polices in the upper Midwest and key programs aimed at the sustainable use of biomass for energy purposes.

Dr. Dennis Becker was the speaker for this topic. Dr. Becker is an Associate Professor of the Deparment of Forestry, College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences, University of Minnesota.

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SCHEDULE IS BEING FINALIZED – STAY TUNED:  Economics of Producing Short Rotation Woody Crops for Energy

At this webinar, Dr. William Lazarus will discuss the economics of producing short rotation woody crops for energy. Cost estimates for short rotation woody crops and other potential biomass crops are available in an Excel-based, macro-driven database management system.  The way the system works is that quantities, prices, machinery operations, and other information feed into an enterprise budget for each year of the stand life of each crop.  The annual budgets can then be “mixed and matched” to model differences in harvest frequencies and other variables.  To accurately reflect the timing of cash flows over the stand life, the annual cash flows are discounted to present values and then converted to annual equivalents.  A rudimentary comparison of energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission results per acre is also included for fertilizer, chemicals, crop drying, and machinery to facilitate lifecycle analysis of end-products made from the crops.

Dr. Lazarus is a Professor and Extension Economic Specialist of the University of Minnesota.

To receive connection instructions, register here.  There is no charge to attend.


October 26, 2011 DONE:  Biomass Harvesting as a Wildlife Management Tool

At this presentation, Ms. Jodie Provost  discussed how biomass harvesting could be used as a habitat management tool for wildlife.  Used properly, with good stewardship in mind, harvest of natural biomass such as grass, brush and trees, can serve as a wildlife habitat management tool.  Landowners and habitat managers spend a great deal of time and money setting back natural succession in our prairies, grasslands, brushlands and forests.  The resulting, younger habitats are important to a host of wildlife species.  As natural biomass markets continue to develop and contractors become equipped to harvest and transport natural biomass, it is becoming an exciting possibility to economically manage many acres of habitat.  

Jodie is the Private Land Wildlife Habitat Specialist of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Click to watch this recording now. After watching, please complete our quick evaluation form


November 16, 2011 DONE: Biomass Energy: Private Sector Perspective

You have biomass, but is there a market?  This webnar will examine the biomass resource from the perspective of the energy developer.  The presentation will touch on the types of biomass, the quality, the quantity and the availability of biomass to a developer.  This will be accompanied by a discussion on factors that affect the biomass market and on developer expectations of the biomass supplier.  Various business/market structures will be discussed to help understand the dynamics and opportunity of the business.

Bruce Labno is a senior consultant of the Golder Associates, Inc based in Roseville, MN.

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For more information:

If you have questions or need additional information, either leave them in the comments below or email zamor015@umn.edu.

Diomy's work addresses agroforestry and renewable energy. He's based in Brainerd.

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