Rural Advantage has developd a concept for how perennial biomass crops can compete economically with corn and soybeans. While our interests are around supplying native prairie mixes for bioenergy relative to the Madelia Model, this concept is readily transferable to other productive conservation on working lands crops across the state. This concept compliments the biomass production payment, from the energy facility, with an Ecological Commodity Payment Package [ECoPayPack] that supplies a payment to the landowner based on the ecological services or public benefit provided when an annual crop has been converted to a perennial crop that is managed in a sustainable way. Once developed, this concept could easily be adapted to allow existing perennial plantings to receive a payment for the ecological services they provide.
The concept is a market based approached for an aggregator to “package” together payments for various ecological services and then pay out a single payment to the landowner. Ecological services that there are currently markets for include carbon, greenhouse gas emission reductions, nitrogen and phosphorous reductions, habitat improvement, sustainability standards, green space and aquifer recharge / water storage. While these programs are not developed in Minnesota, they all exist now in other places in the world.
The following is an illustration of how this concept could work: