Heat with a fuel with (almost) guaranteed continuing low price

joyfulguySeptember 30, 2004

The price of your heating appliance is just the down payment.

The major cost of heating comes from buying the fuel over (one hopes) a substantial number of years.

When one uses petroleum, and more recently, natural gas, as well, one has a major problem.

It takes millions of years to produce it - and we've been using it for about 75 years like it's going out of style.

More problematically - the suppliers are a small number of companies that are part of a worldwide cartel.

The cartel's interest is not in providing consumers with low cost heat.

Most of the members are publicly owned companies, so they are required to publish substantial reports of their doings.

Many people needing fuel live near farmers growing wheat, rye or corn, so they have what seems to me like a great alternative.

Heat your space using one of those fuels.

There's another cartel that controls the prices of grains worldwide - but we hear little of them, for their half dozen or so members are all privately owned - so they make few public reports of their affairs.

It is almost a certainty that they will continue their policy of paying farmers peanuts for their grains.

If they could force you to buy from them, they could dictate the price - but you can buy from any of half a million or so farmers.

If your original supplier asks something like 25% over the price that he'll get at the grain dealer's - you'll soon be using another farmer as supplier.

Further, those crops are produced annually - so we aren't going to run out of them right away. There may be competition, as more people in the world become prosperous enough to begin to share the North American problem of obesity, and as more industrial processes switch to using those sources for feedstock as petroleum-based sources become more expensive.

In the area around the Great Lakes, many heat most of a home with 150 - 200 bus. of corn a year. Multiply that by the price of corn locally and ask yourself whether you are heating for that price.

There's a bonus - the products of combustion are benign. When they stoves were taken for testing originally, some of the testers redid the tests, as they couldn't believe that the corn-fired units produced so much fewer pollutants than, e.g. wood-fired heaters.

Much of the reason being that they use a combustion fan to push air through the fire, so one gets almost complete combustion.

My friend sold one brand of corn-fired heater over fifteen years ago, then another that didn't work very well, then said that he could build a better one, and did.

His has been in production for almost fifteen years and he has a lot of satisfied customers, who rarely call upon him for service.

Seems like a good idea, to me.

ole joyful

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Pooh Bear

There's a bonus - the products of combustion are benign. When they stoves were taken for testing originally, some of the testers redid the tests, as they couldn't believe that the corn-fired units produced so much fewer pollutants than, e.g. wood-fired heaters.

What about carbon dioxide output. CO2 is a product of combustion.
CO2 is becoming a real problem worldwide.
It is a major cause of acid rain. It makes a weak carbolic acid.
This and sulphur dioxide emissions are killing off massive amounts of vegetation in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

So what about the CO2 emissions from this.

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   September 30, 2004 at 11:42PM
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The main product of combustion that grain-fired heaters develop is CO2, as I understand.

It is, in itself, a problem, as we all know.

The grain-fired heaters do not, however, put out many of the noxious products that petroleum-based products and some other combustibles do. Power draft is required, which produces almost complete combustion which means that pollutant factors are far lower than wood combustion - as I mentioned in my original message (though I did not specify wood).

In my home, I use electric baseboard heaters.

Which are clean - at my location.

But the generating systems use mainly coal and petroleum, which are major pollutants, some of the stuff being rather toxic.

They use nuclear, also, which many several years ago were saying was non-polluting as far as the atmosphere is concerned.

But there is the problem of radioactivity in the reactors after decommissioning, and all of that radioactivity in the spent fuel - that has a half-life of what - 20,000 years, or something like that? Where to store it?

Also - it appears that the longevity of the nuclear generators is lower than anticipated, plus the cost of refit being much higher than anticipated, as well.

Natural gas, which develops minimal pollutants, including CO2, is used by some electric utilities - but that is getting scarcer, must usually be shipped long distances, usually by pipeline (not over oceans), and prices are advancing.

About the only really clean power generating system that is in substantial use by the electric utilities at present, that I know of, is hydro-electric, which was the original source that was harnessed here in Ontario, from the Niagara River - where they had major volume and substantial drop over a short space, so good pressure on the turbines. They could dry up Niagara, and would love to do so, but the public would not stand for it. Remember when the American Falls was shut down for a couple of years?

Although Ontario has a huge, largely uninhabited area in the north, there are almost no remaining areas where it would be economically feasible to develop hydro-electric generators.

At present, two of our provinces are making plans to develop a large hydro-electric project in Northern Manitoba, related to aboriginal land, so there will be some benefit for them. But there will be over a thousand miles of transmission to the major centres in Southern Ontario, so there will be substantial line loss.

It is getting more difficult in North America to find exploitable hydro-electric locations. And we have better resources that way than are available in many other parts of the world.

There are some locations where wind generators are in use by utilities, but they produce only a very low percentage of the total generation at present.

They are not constant, as the amount of power produced depends upon the amount of wind available at a given time.

During a recent phone-in discussion on province-wide radio (an area covering something like half a dozen of your states), an employee of Ontario Hydro said that in this area, substantial wind appears in spring and fall, but our need for residential power was mainly in summer (for air conditioning, though the need is much smaller than in your southern states) and winter (for heat, substantially more than in some of your states).

As far as home heating is concerned, almost everything that we do is going to produce some pollutants. Many homes used to use coal and wood - but that was before the automobiles produced their daily blast of pollutants.

As I've indicated in other threads here, I use only a low amount of heat in winter, much lower than in most homes, using about four layers of clothing.

It does seem to me that, among the various heating systems available, grain-fired heaters are among the most benign.

Greetings and good wishes to you and family, Pooh Bear.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   October 2, 2004 at 1:47PM
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Pooh Bear

I am not knocking grainstoves.
Actually I think they are a great idea.
And even if they do produce CO2 (a greenhouse gas),
that is still better than the sulphur dioxide produced by coal fired power plants.
A lot of the acid rain in the Smokey Mountains comes from coal fired power plants in Georgia.
CO2 is still bad but not as bad as SO2.
I would pick the lesser of the two evils.

I spent my early years in front of a coal heater,
and my teen and later years with a wood heater.
Now we natural gas central heat.

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   October 2, 2004 at 5:28PM
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Around two months ago I asked for comments about corn burning stoves and likes or dislikes about them. I ended up buying one and finally got it operating tonight. As a sidenote I also got a fill of fuel for furnace in case corn stove can't keep up when temp dips below zero. Fuel oil price was 1.77 a gallon corn is 1.80 a bushel so the incentative is plain.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2004 at 12:20AM
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It should be mentioned that there's a distinction between the Co2 produced by corn (and any other recently grown fuel, for example wood) and that made by fossil fuels. The molecular structure is the same, but the Co2 released by burning fossil fuels is the only one that causes global warming.

If you burn a fuel made from a recently living plant then you're only releasing carbon from this carbon cycle. The Co2 released by burning wood/corn is the exact same ammount that would be released by it's natural decomposition. The ammount generated could be easily re-asorbed by new plant growth without creating adverse climate effects. However, fossil fuels contain millions of years old carbon that was going to stay deep in the groud and never be released back in to the environment. This huge carbon store is massive and contains such a rich source of carbon that when released the plant growth cannot re-asorb all of it, and thus the Co2 levels in the atmosphere rise and start to affect the climate.

If we were to replace all fossil fuels with bio-fuels that are grown like wood or corn then the Co2 problem would vanish. The growing of new fuels would re-asorb the carbon released by burning them.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2004 at 4:14PM
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Thanks for the info.

It's true - when the wood rots, it releases the CO2 into the atmosphere.

If corn is fed to a hog (or a person) some of it is used to produce energy. And heat.

joyful guy.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2004 at 7:49PM
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If you doubt the truth of global warming - go visit the Arctic: see the polar bears in their natural habitat while you still can.

The Innu are astounded at the speed, and it's increasing, of the melting of the ice there.

The glaciers have been retreating for years - and more speedily, in recent years.

Many of the people in our industries, especially the petroleum-related ones, are in denial.

If you own property within a few feet of sea-level ...

... sell it.

I seem to remember that the tobacco companies denied for years that their product was majorly addictive ...

... and a death-dealer.

Good wishes to all for good health and environmentally friendly, cheap warmth, when needed.

joyful guy

    Bookmark   November 18, 2004 at 6:25PM
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I just discovered something else very interesting about biofuels. Aparently a tree asorbs about 3-4 times as much Co2 as burning it releases. This means that burning natural plant fuels is not just releasing harmless Co2 from this carbon cycle, but it's also encouraging the growing of a crop that is re-oxygenating the environment rather than depleating it of oxygen.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2004 at 9:29AM
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Keep in mind the oxygen CONSUMED in the burning process . . . . gasoline takes some ungodly volume of air; to burn a single gallon. Likewise; wood, corn, whatever . . . consumes a great quantitiy of oxygen as well . . . burning is oxidation at a fast rate . . . . the more heat produced; the more oxygen consumed. Co2 from wood, or corn, or any petroeum fuel, is still Co2. It is no different from one source or the other. The simple fact is that the RATE at which we are changing the normal exchange of carbon in and out of the atmosphere is what's causing problems. What took millions of years to tie up; is being released in a mere few hundred.

No matter HOW "clean" a fuel we burn; it still does not change the fact that the rate at which we're doing it in nature's timeline is still a drastic change . . . .


    Bookmark   November 19, 2004 at 6:42PM
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I guess we should all move to the tropics.

In winter I wear briefs, T-shirt, winter thermal underwear, shirt and pants, sweater, jacket, with welder's cap on my (almost hairless) pate, and a cap over that. While operating my computer, working at desk, etc.

When hand on keyboard gets cold, slip it under the rump for a few seconds.

Temperature about high 50's or 60 or so.

Not so difficult in kitchen, where I'm usually moving around and active.

Keep it warm in bathroom, though - don't like sitting on cold seat (civilized men sit down to pee, and now in my 70s I need to go more often).

Some who clean bathrooms have told the male residents that unless they sit down to pee - they clean the bathroom!

Good wishes all - for all of the hot air that you really require.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   November 25, 2004 at 4:45PM
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Global warming is at best an educated guess -
"pop" science. It's been ridiculously cold where I live this winter; yet the warm winter we had last year was the further evidence of global warming.

No one has found a way to blame the cold this year on global warming.

The earth can and does release it's own greenhouse gases. Fires through lightning strikes; volcanoes, all these release more gases into the air than man ever will.
Methane gas is released from under the ocean into the atmosphere all the time. Raw petroleum is leaked from under the ocean floor into the ocean in locations that man has never drilled. With no sign of stopping.

I believe in good stewardship of the planet; but trust me -we're not driving anything to the brink.

Our Earth is itself; a giant renewable source of energy;and for me(and you)- that's pretty good news.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2005 at 11:53PM
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Hi boltonranger,

Maybe you should sign of with "br-r-r-r", this winter (depending on where you live)!

However - the ice is melting on the Arctic ocean - the glaciers are receding at an increasing rate.

Our kids and grandkids are not going to be mad at us just for running our retirement plans into the ground, or running huge deficits that they'll need to pay off - but they'll be displeased as well that we weren't more responsible about our prduction of heat and C02.

As you'll note from my earlier message - I'm trying to do my part in terms of home heating.

But then - I should be more careful about the miles that I put on my (little) car - with a small engine that sips gas and has standard transmission which produces more miles per gallon (and no air conditioning). Fifteen years old, with 312,000 km. on odometer - 320,000 equals 200,000 mi.

joyful guy

    Bookmark   January 29, 2005 at 4:37PM
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No A/C joyful?
Remember the miners that suffocated when there was a spill of freon above them in the mine the worked in?

They suffocated because freon (r-12) is heavier than air and it flowed downward into the area they were in.

Makes one curious how that mean ole r-12 could ever get high enough to hurt our ozone.

But so many of us feel good with r-12 gone; that's really what it's about -- feeling good about our environment.

My compliments to you however, for doing what you can.
I too, believe in responsible conservation of a heating dollar.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2005 at 11:54PM
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Global warming . . . in my opinion is not even a question of it's going on. How much is caused by "us" may indeed be a nebulous thing to try and determine; but the mechanism is there.

We are getting "rid" of CFC's 'cuz of their nasty effects upon things. We're replacing them with HCFC's . . and calling it "Puron" with a little earth logo. Suppose it makes some folks feel better about it . . . reality is that HCFC's are in my opinion slightly less harmful than CFC's.

What continues to baffle me; is the total abandonment of ammonia as a very effective refrigerant. That is what Mr Carrier used many moons ago. Unlike CFC's and HCFC's; it is VERY easy to detect leaks . . . the human nose can do so easily. Unlike CFC's and HCFC's; it does NOT attach itself to the hemoglobin in your blood and thereby block access to oxygen we need. Furthermore; it is a naturally occuring substance which our bodies, in fact ALL those in nature including plants; can easily absorb / digest / get rid of. Urine consists of a good deal of ammonia. So do many fertilizers contain it. So, it is overall a FAR more environmentally responsible choice. Chemical companies make more money doing CFC's and HCFC's than ammonia. Seems to me that THAT is the primary reason . . . . . hope those people feel good about that . . . .


    Bookmark   January 31, 2005 at 6:08AM
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I agree with you Bob. All you have to do is follow the money. A great deal of environmental issues are about exactly that - money.
Guilt and PC drive the consumer to seek out "Friendly" products.
Ammonia? I agree with you and Mr. Carrier; but did you ever notice how many cleaning products say "No Ammonia" on them? As though ammonia were plutonium.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2005 at 11:51AM
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I'm embarrassed.

My little 1990 Dodge Colt, 1.5 litre (1,500 cc.) engine, standard tranny, no A/C that has gone over 300,000 km (close to 200,000 m.) ...

... failed ... miserably.

Must have it repaired before I can get licence renewal (test every two years).

The 1980 Ford van, which has over 300,000 km., probably over 400,000 km. (250,000 m.) on the odometer, being over 20 years old, is exempt - or I'd probably be walking for a few days.

Sorry about that.

joyful guy (more joyful yesterday than today - and the rest of the week)

    Bookmark   January 31, 2005 at 7:10PM
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Are you talking emissions joyful?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2005 at 4:05PM
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Sorry - I ralized just now that I had not told what the trouble was.

In Ontario we must take small vehicles under 20 years old for emission test every 2 years.

My mechanic says that they made standards more stringent at the end of last year - said I should have had it tested in Dec. I figure that it would have failed anyway.

Emission test costs $35., they tell you whether it passed or failed in about three categories, including CO2 and NO, under load and idling.

If it fails, you can take it to your regular garage to have work done on it, with or without having had a diagnosis done. But with limited knowledge of what has caused the problem.

When your test fails, the testing facility can run a diagnosis, which costs $112.00, should you choose to have that done. Then you have another choice. You can take it to your regular garage and have work done, but ...

... if it fails again, you're done, except ...

you can have the testing facility do work on your vehicle to bring it up to passing.

If it can not be brought up to requirements after $450. total invested at the testing facility, including diagnostic, thus net $388. cost of repair, they'll give you a conditional pass.

That lets you go for the two years until the next test is due.

If, after initial fail, you have work done at your own garage, that does not count toward the $450.00 of diagnosis/repairs - so should you have $500. or so of qwork done there and the vehicle failed the second test (which costs $17.50), that would be in addition to the charges at the testing facility. So my regular gaqrage said to just have diagnosis and repair done at the testing facility.

I can have a 10-day extension for $15.00 to let me travel legally while the work is being done, as my licence expired Monday night.

(more or less) joyful guy

    Bookmark   February 1, 2005 at 7:09PM
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Upgrading wasn't finished by Thursday morning (yesterday) and daughter wanted me in Toronto, 120 miles away for a secret celebration related to my birthday.

So I got the 10 day extension yesterday morning and went to the celebration. Those devious devils - son and daughter took me on subway, then through tunnels near concert hall, building connected with city, etc., then in through back door of recently-built headquarters of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) our national public broadcaster. I'm rather addicted to their programming - something for the mind.

After travelling various rotunda, hallways, etc., when we entered the foyer by one of their studios, I saw someone with a program titled, "Stuart Maclean" - so I knew what was up! An entertainer who tells stories that I enjoy there weekly was putting on a fund-raiser meeting for a local women's shelter called "Street Haven" that are celebrating their 40th anniversary of helping homeless women have a safe place to be with good friends.

Had a really enjoyable evening listening to some of his stories, discussion, etc. Even got to put in my $0.02 worth.

Son gave me a book of his stories for Christmas.

Car has gone in today for finishing the upgrading so that it will pass emissions test. Hope it makes it O.K., not just conditional renewal of licence.

Happy motoring, all.

joyful guy

    Bookmark   February 4, 2005 at 3:39PM
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That is a shame. We had that kind of testing here too; with the same type of waiver if you spend enough at the garage.
If you spend enough - you can "pollute."

Follow the money -
No better racket.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2005 at 6:21PM
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Bicycles, anyone?

The car still didn't pass - but I got a conditional clearance.

Can run for another two years - and it will probably have died before that.

If I don't precede it - which I don't plan to. Thankful to be enjoying good health.

As for the problem of finding warmth in our habitation without causing too much trouble for the environment - how be we go find ourselves a nice cave?

Unfortunately - we'd probably need a horse to ride from cave-mouth to highway.

They're reasonably warm, they say. At least, underground mines are.

Have a great weekend, all. When one's retired, every day is weekend.

ole joyful (76 two weeks ago)

    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 2:32PM
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Bry84....are they teaching a new chemistry now? Where i went to school CO2 is one molecule of carbon and two molecules of oxygen,,and it dont matter if it comes from a coal fire, a campfire, a corn stove or my ex wifes bad breath.

CO2 is also the prime ingredient for photosynthesis, so If people would stop defoliating our plantet by cutting the trees to feed there wood stoves and perhaps plant a few acres of corn, the photosynthesis could transform the CO2, H2O and Sunlight into more energy while scrubbing the atmosphere in the manner that nature intended.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2005 at 1:47AM
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LazyPup, the source of the Co2 is extremely important. I did state that Co2 from wood is no different to Co2 from coal, or any other source. The distinction I'm trying to make is that the only source which causes long term increases of Co2 in the atmosphere is fossil fuels. Carbon is in a constant cycle, mostly dissolved in the sea, in the air as Co2, and also briefly being turned in to plants and animals. However, it's not a closed cycle, a proportion of carbon is constantly leaving the cycle and being sequestered in the earth as coal, oil and eventually gas. If you burn a tree, it doesn't affect the global carbon levels as a tree is only a very brief part of the carbon cycle and the carbon trapped in it would have been soon released as Co2 when the tree died and decayed. The result, neutral impact on global carbon levels. However, during the millions of years that this carbon cycle has been running a vast amount of carbon has been sequestered as fossil fuels, and now they're isolated from the carbon cycle and would naturally never return to it. The problem is that we're reversing this gradual removal of carbon from the atmosphere at a accelerated pace by digging up these fossil fuels, and burning them which releases the carbon. The result, global carbon levels rise. As I said, the issue is not the molecule, it's the exact same thing, but rather where it comes from in the carbon cycle. You can alter the interactions of surface level carbon without negative effects, but when you start to move vast amounts of carbon between the surface and deeper stores the planet's temperature and rate of plant growth will be drastically changed.

As for corn, it must adhere to the same rules as any other plant, including a tree. When you burn it (the only way to efficiently extract energy from it), it will release all the carbon it asorbed while growing. Growing plants to burn is not good for the environment, in fact corn growing is an extremely polluting process, but they will have no effect on carbon levels. Neither good or bad, just neutral.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2005 at 8:14AM
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"If you burn a tree, it doesn't affect the global carbon levels as a tree is only a very brief part of the carbon cycle and the carbon trapped in it would have been soon released as Co2 when the tree died and decayed."

This is totally incorrect. There is no CO2 gas trapped in a tree that is released during decay.

Gasseous CO2 is taken into a plant through pores on the underside of a leaf. Through the process of photosyntesis a plant uses Chlorophil and Sunlight as a catalyst to combine the Gassesous CO2 and Water (H2O) to form Sugar (C12H22O11). Sugar is the stored form of carbon that is used as a fuel by both human and animal cells and combustion. In fact, combustion itself is merely the oxidation of carbon. Complete combustion, whether it takes place in a human or animan cell or in a fire requires 2.16lbs of oxygen per lb. of carbon. Heat is a byproduct of combustion.

As plant matter decays, the sugars, which are the stored form of carbon are concentrated by heat and compression, first into compost, then to Peat, and finally to lignite and bituminous coal (Soft Coal) and with another million or so years of compression, it produces Anthracite or Hard coal.

The problem here is that when excess vegatative matter decompose in the earth, they also combine with other elements that are present in the soil. Coal and oil is fundamentally only a concentrated form of plant sugars, however during the compression phase in the soil coal picks up trace amounts of other elements. The worst of which is sulphur.

When complete combustion occurs the Hydrogen and carbon in the sugar is transformed by oxidation back into water vapor H2o and Carbon Dioxide which is then recycled back into sugars by plants. The process is never ending. (The presence of sulphur is almost non existant in corn or wood, therefore they do not contribute significantly to acid rain)

However, when deep mined fossil fuels, that now contain trace amounts of sulpur are burned, the sulphur combines with oxygen to form suphur dioxide (SO2). The emitted Sulphur-dioxide then combines with water vapor (H2O) to form
(H2SO4) sulphuric acid which falls in the form of acid rain.

You stated in your post that growing corn is an extremly polluting process,,, AGAIN, TOTALLY UNTRUE..

With the advent of no-till planting and harvesting techniques the average fuel consumption per acre of corn is less than 1/2gal/acre as compared to the national average of 11 to 14 gal/acre to maintain a lawn for the same growing period. (Ref. Ohio State University- Agricultural Extension Service Bulletin)

Fertilizer is only applied prior to planting as a preplant subsoil application of anhydrous amonia, and one post emergence application of nitrogen, but only after germination and before the corn plants produce the third leaf on the stalk. The application of fertilizers after the formation of the third leaf will actually yellow the corn and reduce crop yeilds (Again- The Ohio State University -Agricultural Extension Service Bullets on corn production).

The applicaton of fertilizer is carefully regulated. Prior to application a farmer is required to perform soil tests and may only apply the absolute minimum necessary to maintain the nitrogen requirement of the specific crop. In no case may more than 10lb/acre per season be applied.

By contrast, it is conservatively estimated that the american homeowners apply an average of 35lbs/acre on thier lawns.

In fact, after nearly ten years of study the Ohio State University Agricultural extension service has determined that excess nitrate runoff from urban and suburban lawns and gardens is nearly 1000 times greater than the maximum allowable runoff for a farm.

While it is easy for everyone to sit in there easy chair and point fingers at industry and agriculture for pollution, the fact is, we need to really monitor what we are discarding as a matter of course.

By example, if a truck driver is unloading his trailer and drops a gallon jug of chlorox on the ground, he is required by law to stop and file an EPA hazmat incident report and define the method of cleanup, but once the truckload of chlorox is placed on the grocery shelf every consumer in town can dump gallons down thier drains, in their wells and swimming pools or whatever, without so much as a conscious thought of the outcome.

Examine the chemicals under your kitchen sink, in your garage, basement and store room. Now multiply that by how many homes in your community? If any single corporation had that much excess hazardous waste laying around in a warehouse their would be no end to the public outcry.

Everyone likes to complain about the electrical utility generating plant, but in truth they are required to constantly monitor their stack emmissions and make instant changes if it gets out of hand, but most homeowners havent a clue as to the combustion effieciency of their furnaces or water heaters.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2005 at 2:55PM
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""If you burn a tree, it doesn't affect the global carbon levels as a tree is only a very brief part of the carbon cycle and the carbon trapped in it would have been soon released as Co2 when the tree died and decayed."

This is totally incorrect. There is no CO2 gas trapped in a tree that is released during decay."

Perhaps it would help if you read the sentance again while assuming I knew the difference between carbon and Co2 when I wrote it?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2005 at 3:54AM
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we have to heat with something...i use geothermal and wood....what ever heat source you use you (i thnk) must pollute (unless it is some sort of solar or wind) and i am certain we will get there (solor or wind) as electricity costs and other fuels continue to rise to unbarable amounts..one of these days ..green power will be seen as a "cost efficient" alternative

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 10:41PM
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I make my living in agriculture. I am in no way against farming or the practices used in farming. LazyPup made some claims that are terribly inacurate though.

"Fertilizer is only applied prior to planting as a preplant subsoil application of anhydrous amonia, and one post emergence application of nitrogen, but only after germination and before the corn plants produce the third leaf on the stalk"

Where do you get that from? I agree with what you are saying about most of the stuff, but if you dont know anything about agriculture then dont try to act like it. Fertilizer is applied at many differant growth stages. While it is mosr efficient to apply it at planting in the row, many farms broadcast it at planting. The number of leaves is irrelivant. The limiting factor is if you can get into the field without breaking stalks with the equipment. N needs in a corn crop can vary alot with differant varieties. The rule of thumb for mid season N application is around 6", but many varieties better utilize N later in the season.

"The applicaton of fertilizer is carefully regulated. Prior to application a farmer is required to perform soil tests and may only apply the absolute minimum necessary to maintain the nitrogen requirement of the specific crop. In no case may more than 10lb/acre per season be applied."

There is no regulation on fertilizer use. The only people who are required to have soil tests are farms with livestcok, and that is only in some states. 10lb/acre per season?? your kidding, right? Try at least 160 lbs. It takes about 1.2 lbs N/bushel of corn, and that can vary with corn varieties.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2005 at 3:16PM
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Billie said "we have to heat with something..."

Well, yes, and also no. There are passive solar designs that require no conventional heat input at all, they collect solar heat during the day and radiate it back in to the house at night. I was reading about one design where they entered the numbers in to a computer and tested it against the weather data going back about 60 years, and concluded that it would have maintained a steady temperature the whole time and never needed backup heat once. Of course, the design was way out there and looked like a big triangular greenhouse... But, it did work, and it proves something very important. You don't have to keep pumping energy in to a building to maintain it's temperature, building's only behave this way because of the way we currently build them. We don't so much need a new green energy source for the house, but rather a whole new house that interacts better with the environment around it and has respectable levels of insulation.

Less extreme passive solar designs can replace anywhere from 10-70% of the energy consumed by a regular design, and with small exceptions they can look like normal houses. It really is that simple, houses can heat and cool themselves to a large extent. The small energy input required could be provided in many forms, solar air heaters, wood burning, even if you used fossil fuels like gas or oil the environmental impact would be largely reduced.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 3:57PM
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I don't have any numbers to throw into the discussion, but no one has yet mentioned the fossil fuel usage required to produce that bushel of corn - gasoline/diesel/motor oil, etc. required in the production and operation of the tractors & tillage/planting implements, and their tires, multiple trips across the field tilling, planting, spraying, cultivating, and harvesting the crop - and don't forget the fertilizers, then fuel consumption transporting the grain to grain bins, where it's often dried using big propane burners and fans, then transporting it from those locations to point of sale. There's a lot of 'embodied energy' in that bushel of corn, and a lot of it came at the expense of the combustion of fossil fuels.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 5:53PM
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No doubt LuckyP, it takes fuel to produce the corn for burning. The amount of fuel is very small per acre though. I dont have the numbers, but it would be measured in probebly less than 10 gallons for an acre corn produced, thats all field operations included. That one acre would be enough to heat a average size house for the winter, maybe 2 acres depending on yields and were in the corn belt you are.

If I didnt live on farmland, I may not have bought a corn burner, I dont use any fuel transporting and drying. But, it also takes fuel to transport any other fossil fuel for heat or energy.

If I needed to I could produce enough corn without fuel consuption at all...not that I would really want to though:)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 7:28PM
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The fact remains - the oil business is controlled by a few corporations, who have little interest in providing fuel cheaply. Several of their people hold important positions in the U.S. government.

In addition to problems relating to supply and price due to various international political considerations.

Another international cartel controls world grain markets.

As they are private companies, they make few reports of their activities, so we are much less aware of what they do.

They have been very effective at arranging for the prices that they pay to farmers for various grains to have been kept at low levels, for generations.

Would you rather fight the cartels - or benefit from their machinations?

Have a great week, everyone.

Hope you get all of the hot air that you need this winter - without getting your wallet too badly bent out of shape.

joyful guy

    Bookmark   September 22, 2005 at 3:25PM
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Misoilman.. Your figures are correct on fertilizer requirements if one is dumb enough to repeatedly plant corn on the same land year after year. Back Before the civil war an old slave named George Washington Carver tried to convince the farmers to use crop rotation rather than fertilizing, but with the advent of packaged fertilizers here we are once again planting the same crops on the same fields year after year.

In my 55 years of experience I have yet to apply any fertilizer other than a side dressing during the planting process and a fall and spring applicaton of animal manure at the rate of 1 ton per acre, but then I need to get rid of the manure anyway.

My corn ground is rotated on a three year cycle, grain and clover hay the first year, timothy & alfalfa mix hay the second year and corn the third year. It is true that my per acre yeild is only about 75% of that of my neighbors who use heavy applications of fertilizers, but my bottom line is much higher because I dont have the cost of the fertiliers or application methods, so I can live with the slight reduction in yield.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2005 at 2:07AM
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I've heard that some Iowa guys have a cattle pen, and feed the cattle.

Run pigs with the cattle.

Don't feed the pigs.

Anything to that story - or is it another vicious rumour?

ole joyful

    Bookmark   November 1, 2005 at 5:24PM
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