C Change

AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University’s Consortium for Cultivating Human and Naturally reGenerative Enterprises (C-CHANGE) is hosting its inaugural Conference on Agriculture, Technology and Innovation March 25-27 in

Des Moines.

The conference — themed “Why are we missing the boat on biogas?” — is designed to bring together experts from agriculture, energy, government, science and society to share new ideas to expand the value chain for Renewable Natural Gas, a component of biogas, according to a university news release.

A well-designed value chain could foster economic growth in rural America while also alleviating concerns over energy security, greenhouse gas emissions, climate resilience, soil health, water quality and more in the Midwest, said Lisa Schulte Moore, C-CHANGE director and professor of natural resource ecology and management at Iowa State.

“From wind energy to ethanol, biodiesel, and solar, Iowa has been an innovator and leader in renewable energy. We believe this conference can help our state carve out a leadership position in biogas that can foster growth in the rural economy, while also delivering a positive impact on the environment,” Schulte Moore said.

The conference, taking place at the Hilton Des Moines Downtown Hotel, is structured to share information and generate discussion regarding feedstocks, anaerobic digestion, coproducts, distribution, financing, policy, market opportunities and societal impact.

Bryan Sievers, who is helping plan and will present at the conference, heads up Sievers Family Farms and AgriReNew located in Scott County. The Sievers Farm operation partners with Glenora Feed Yard to capture manure from their beef cattle feedlots. Using an anaerobic digester system, AgriReNew converts the manure, along with waste streams from several agricultural processing facilities in the region, into methane that powers a generator to produce enough electricity to power approximately 1,000 homes annually.

The two 970,000-gallon digesters also produce an abundant supply of natural fertilizers that provide nutrients to farms in the area, thereby virtually eliminating the need for imported, inorganic forms of fertilizer, Sievers said.

The conference kicks off with a mixer starting at 5 p.m., March 25. The next day and a half will feature a diverse panel of speakers representing science, practice and policy aspects of developing the value chain. Registration is available at the new C-CHANGE website, cchange.research.iastate.edu.