October 1, 2020. Two researchers at Illinois State University have received a $150,000 (€127,800) grant to research the energy potential and feasibility of incorporating anaerobic digestion (AD) of plant wastes into small-to-medium-sized conventional and organic farming composting operations.

Dr David Kopsell, professor of horticulture, and Dr. LC Yang, assistant professor of environmental health, received the two-year grant from the US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA)

The purpose of the USDA-NIFA grant program is to increase the capacity of universities with agriculture or renewable energy programs to develop original research, provide educational training, and increase outreach activities.

The funding will also allow multiple units across the Illinois State University campus, including the Departments of Agriculture and Health Sciences and the School of Biological Sciences, access to demonstration-scale AD equipment to better prepare students for employment in agricultural and renewable energy careers.

According to Illinois State University, the researchers anticipate adding hands-on AD laboratory activities in courses such as Organic Crop Production, Fruit & Vegetable Production, and Renewable Energy and Agriculture, impacting over 150 students.

The researchers will partner with the University Farm at Lexington and local organic farms such as PrairiErth Farm in Atlanta.