Nova Scotia grower experiments with grass pellets
By Brandi Cowen
A Nova Scotia grower is already saving big by burning wood pellets to heat its greenhouses. Now owners Robert and Colleen Parker have their sights set on grass pellets to help achieve further heating cost cuts.
West River Greenhouses is experimenting with different species of grasses, growing and pelletizing them in order to provide fuel for its pellet burner. The lower price point these pellets sell at is one point in favour of burning grasses instead wood.
The grass crops can also be harvested every year; trees require a much longer growth period before their wood can be harvested and pelletized.
In an article in The Chronicle Herald, Robert said, “I paid $8,000 for my last load of wood pellets… That $8,00 is only about two-thirds what it would cost me on oil.” He added, “So I’m saving a third of my costs by putting in wood pellets instead of oil, but I could save another 20 to 25 per cent if we were able to produce our own fuel.”
The Parkers aren’t the only ones interested in innovating with grass pellets. On Nov. 27, Nova Scotia’s Department of Agriculture announced $787,200 in new funding for a pilot project to showcase how burning grass pellets can serve as a renewable source of energy.
The heating system will be installed at Perennia Innovation Centre in Bible Hill, N.S., and will encourage farmers in the province to produce green energy, increase their profits and help protect the environment.
“With lots of pasture and a climate that’s ideal for growing grass, Nova Scotia can be a leader in growing it for energy production,” said Agriculture Minister John MacDonell. “Capitalizing on our natural advantage is the kind of innovation that will ensure Nova Scotia’s agriculture industry is strong, profitable and sustainable.”