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Is your straw for sale?

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Saskatchewan’s push in direction of creating value-added processing industries has been accelerating lately. Simply this 12 months, three canola crush crops have both been introduced as new builds or expansions.

However canola isn’t the one agri-processing shifting forward, as Crimson Leaf Pulp lately introduced its crops to construct a wheat straw-based pulp mill at Regina, Sask. The corporate says its plant “will have the capacity to produce 182,000 tonnes of market pulp annually from waste straw.”

The announcement is being met with a good bit of skepticism, and for good purpose.

To begin with, that “waste” is one other individual’s treasure, and secondly, is that straw even for sale? Nevermind an attractive value per pound, as a result of that wheat straw is price extra to a farmer when it’s put again into the soil than it’s processed right into a paper product or constructing materials.

Crimson Leaf Pulp cites proximity to main infrastructure and a major workforce as key components of their determination to construct at Regina, however did they contemplate provide? The provision wanted to provide these 182,000 tonnes is perhaps laborious to come back by.

Areas with extra rainfall and extra straw, comparable to northeastern and east central Saskatchewan, is perhaps extra prepared to half with it, however which means factoring in the price of delivering that straw to the mill.

Then, there’s the historical past and observe information of comparable crops in Western Canada.

Again within the 90s at Elie, Man., Isobord’s straw board plant was not profitable, declaring chapter in December of 2000. Their successor, Dow Bioproducts, attributed the closure to “external market conditions, such as increasingly volatile feedstock and energy costs and lower-cost product competition” in response to the Manitoba Historic Society.

Three different components have been attributed to the failure of Isobord and the next failing of Dow Bioproducts in 2005: the engineering design of the plant prevented it from reaching full manufacturing; the product couldn’t meet high quality requirements demanded by furnishings producers; and, the plant couldn’t compete efficiently with well-established fibreboard producers who used wooden.

Nice Plains MDF’s wheat straw medium-density fibreboard (MDF) plant, situated at Fairness, Alta., can also be slated to start manufacturing runs starting in fall of 2021.

Is this simply going to be one other kick on the similar can? What’s totally different between the ’90s and now?

Whereas the drive for a particleboard and MDF plant at Elie was from an environmental standpoint, their location was within the centre of high-straw producing areas, the place farmers had extra, and have been prepared to promote. And but, they nonetheless failed.

Within the present atmosphere, nevertheless, straw is seen as a carbon-neutral materials, and will have the benefit within the carbon financial system, versus standard wood- and oil-based supplies.

Now, if farmers have been to gather straw from their fields, a extra ingenious product than cigarette paper or different paper merchandise could possibly be created — pelletized straw would make a wonderful gas supply for biomass-fuelled grain dryers, as alluded to by a latest announcement by the federal authorities.

Maybe that may be the gas required to make this enterprise thought profitable.


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