# ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY

Farmers in Ashtabula County started growing giant miscanthus in 2011, and now raise about 4,000 acres. The harvest goes to manufacturing facilities run by Conneaut-based Aloterra Energy where the fiber is used to make compostable food containers and to produce biodegradable absorbents for soaking up fluid spills, such as oil. As part of OSU Extension’s efforts to advance the crop, educators led a tour this past winter of farmers’ plantings and Aloterra’s facilities. Giant miscanthus grows well on marginal land, is a perennial plant and makes marketable, biodegradable products.

### SUPPORTING FISH AND WILDLIFE AND $3.6 BILLION IN RECREATION The National Wildlife Federation estimates invasive species’ impact on ecosystems and the U.S. economy at billions of dollars each year. OARDC scientists recently studied how non-native species affect the native fish and wildlife that eat them. They found that eating non-native prey isn’t as good for predators as eating native prey. Scientists say they hope their new findings will help environmental agencies identify where invasive species will have the greatest impact, and also to protect economic assets. In all, wildlife-related recreation has an economic impact on Ohio’s economy of$3.6 billion.

OARDC scientists studied a pretreatment step called controlled-flow hydrodynamic cavitation, which can further break down sludge and boost production of biogas.

### TRANSFORMING WASTE PRODUCTS INTO BIOFUEL

When a city treats its wastewater, dealing with the sludge can account for up to 50 percent of operating costs. Now, instead of landfilling or otherwise wasting the sludge, many facilities are making biogas from it. OARDC scientists studied a pretreatment step called controlled-flow hydrodynamic cavitation, which can further break down sludge and boost production of biogas. Cleveland-based Arisdyne Systems Inc. and municipal wastewater treatment plants in Lima, Wooster and Rocky River have all been involved. Together, the team hopes to make wastewater treatment more efficient, take pressure off landfills and produce even more eco-friendly biofuel.

### WHERE HAVE ALL THE BOBWHITES GONE? REPORTING THE STATUS OF BIRDS IN OHIO

Some birds, such as the northern bobwhite, have fallen by 70 percent in the past 40 years. As part of efforts to reverse the decline, OARDC-funded scientists helped gather and publish a book of data on the status of Ohio’s birds. The book, The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Ohio, was written for a wide range of readers and shows the breeding locations and trends over time of more than 100 species. The data offers a source for biologists and land managers to explore the relationships between species distributions and land use. More: go.osu.edu/StateOfOurBirds