VIASPACE Inc. today announced that the company has entered into a research collaboration with the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Division (UCANR).
The objectives of the research are to:
- Compare the growth of Giant King Grass using subsurface drip irrigation with flood (furrow) irrigation
- Compare individual node and whole stalk planting methods
- Evaluate yields when cut every 6 months for bioenergy applications
- Evaluate yields when cut every 2 months for animal feed or anaerobic digestion to produce biomethane
- Evaluate growth of Giant King Grass in a very hot dry climate
UCANR is the division of the University of California that operates the Cooperative Extension Program and nine Research and Extension Centers that link California farmers and ranchers to agricultural and veterinary researchers at the UC Davis, Riverside and Berkeley campuses. VIASPACE is collaborating with the 255 acre Desert Research and Extension Center, located in Holtville, California.
VIASPACE provided some funding for the research, and Dr. Oli Bachie is the research collaborator. Dr. Bachie earned his Ph.D. in Plant Biology at UC Riverside. Dr. Bachie is the UC Cooperative Extension advisor for Imperial, Riverside and San Diego counties specializing in agronomy.
Giant King Grass seedlings were harvested from the VIASPACE propagation nursery in California and were planted at the Holtville farm. The first animal feed harvest will be in August. Giant King Grass is a perennial grass, and the research project is planned to continue for multiple years.
VIASPACE CEO, Dr. Carl Kukkonen, reported, "I received a great undergraduate education (in Physics) at UC Davis which is one of the world's outstanding agriculture universities, and I have recently served on the Dean's Advisory Council. I am pleased to be able to collaborate with UC on this research project which will add valuable independent information to our extensive data base. VIASPACE is now growing Giant King Grass in 11 locations in 8 countries on 4 continents, and it has been extensively tested by third party laboratories for electricity production, biogas, biofuel, pellet and animal feed applications."
VIASPACE Chairman, Dr. Kevin Schewe, commented, "The University of California Research Center in Holtville is located in the Imperial Valley, relatively close to where Mesquite Lake Water and Power, LLC is working with VIASPACE with a 22 acre propagation nursery of Giant King Grass for an 18 MW biomass power plant and a companion advanced biofuels facility which are a part of the Mesquite Lake Energy Park. Although this region is a desert, with high temperatures and low average rainfall of three inches per year, the economy is heavily based on agriculture due to irrigation, supplied wholly from the Colorado River via the All-American Canal. The readily available irrigation combined with the sunny, hot climate make for conditions that we believe are excellent for very high yields of Giant King Grass to be used for bioenergy development and animal feed."
Dr. Schewe, continued, "In addition to working as the VIASPACE Chairman, I am one of the largest individual investors in VIASPACE and continue to regularly increase my common share investment in this company. From a business perspective, having a Giant King Grass research collaboration with the prestigious and respected University of California is a remarkable achievement for our company with multiple potential benefits. First, this project will add well-regarded and UC-validated data to our Giant King Grass data base and that ever-expanding data base makes our product more valuable and more creditworthy. Second, we see California as a large and significant domestic market for both green, renewable bioenergy/biofuels and animal feed. This relationship and project increases our exposure and reputation with local and state governing authorities. Third, there is extensive networking between private and public businesses and industries and the University of California—this opens new doors and fosters relationships important to our future. Finally, VIASPACE now has its established propagation nursery and this new research project with UCANR where we can show and demonstrate the biomass platform strength and animal feed utility of Giant King Grass to prospective clients."
Dr. Schewe, concluded, "We are at the half-way point through 2014 and we are continuing to build our company and sign new contracts that are expanding our business pipeline and global footprint. The now competitive economics of carbon-neutral, renewable green bioenergy plus the important global political and environmental mandates of decreasing dependence on fossil fuels and thereby reducing carbon emissions are all working in our favor. In addition, the earth's population is growing and animal feed applications of Giant King Grass will naturally grow as a result. We are creating a robust pipeline of business and future revenues to accomplish our objectives to grow the value of our company. VIASPACE is at the leading edge of this industry and we are growing in global recognition and business momentum."