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USDA grant fuels prairie transformation project in Missouri
Missouri Ag Connection - 02/09/2024

The Horizon II pilot project, situated near Princeton, Missouri, is leading the way in transforming 1,000 acres into native prairie, showcasing a pioneering approach for landowners to generate income while promoting environmental improvement.

Funded by an $80 million USDA Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grant, the initiative, spearheaded by Roeslein Alternative Energy (RAE) in collaboration with 13 public and private entities, aims to convert an additional 39,000 acres of highly erodible land in Northern Missouri and Southern Iowa. The project seeks to enhance wildlife habitat, benefit the environment, and utilize sustainably harvested native prairie feedstock to produce Renewable Natural Gas (RNG). Financial incentives are in place to encourage the planting of 40,000 acres of winter-hardy cereal rye cover crops, further contributing to RNG production.

Landowners stand to gain significant benefits through this initiative:

• Rent: Highly erodible landowners receive $160 per acre annually throughout the contract's duration.

• Turnkey Approach: Horizon II covers all expenses related to prairie seed, installation, and maintenance for the initial two years.

• Renewable Energy Revenue: From the third year onwards, landowners receive $37 per ton of harvested prairie biomass delivered to the RAE anaerobic digester near Albany, Missouri.

• Alternative Option: Landowners receive $1 per ton if RAE manages harvest and delivery.

• Potential Environmental Credit Compensation: Additional income opportunities arise from carbon sequestration and other ecological services, with landowners receiving 75%.

The planting process, known as dormant seeding or frost seeding, involves broadcasting native prairie seeds over-ground during the winter months. The locally sourced seed mix, comprising diverse forbs and grasses native to the region, ensures optimal success.

Beyond producing RNG, Horizon II contributes to environmental well-being by creating wildlife habitat and offering ecological services such as improved water infiltration, soil health, carbon sequestration, and erosion prevention.

Landowners interested in sustainable agriculture and environmental impact are invited to join the Horizon II movement. An information session is scheduled for March 1, 2024, at 10:30 AM, featuring a catered lunch at noon. Prospective participants can RSVP by contacting Steve Mowry, Director of Land Development and Prairie Establishment at or by calling 816-830-6900.

RAE, with a focus on native prairie restoration, operates renewable energy facilities converting agricultural and industrial wastes into renewable natural gas and sustainable co-products, contributing to a greener future for communities and the environment.

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