Why Bamboo? Moso bamboo shootA crop whose time has come – rapidly renewable bambooBamboo is one of the fastest growing and most productive biomasses on earth. The plant has become increasingly important in commercial products, including furniture, flooring, plywood, pulp, paper, bicycles, and household linens. For example, bamboo flooring and fiber for sheets and towels have become mainstream products popular with consumers looking for green products with high performance qualities.The global market for bamboo products is approximately $15B and estimated to be $20B by 2015. Chinese production of bamboo has more than doubled since 2000, and China currently produces 80% of the world’s bamboo and consumes 60% of that production. Due to increased demand, the price of bamboo has doubled in the last three years, but there is no domestic source in the United States. While bamboo cultivation has boomed across Asia in the last twenty years, the United States has not at this time become a player in the world market, yet it is the world’s largest importer of bamboo products.The Alabama Black Belt and surrounding region is an ideal environment for bamboo production – rich soil, mild climate, amount of annual rainfall, and available crop land found in the region are all conducive to abundant bamboo production.Why now?Historically, bamboo has been difficult to establish in commercial scale farming operations due to sterile seed production and difficulty of propagation -a new patented propagation process is now available to enable the large scale propagation of bamboos and giant reed grasses; without this unique technology, it would be impossible to achieve a large scale, cost effective production of sustainable bamboo-based biomass;Planting requires minimal capital investment and builds upon the inherent plant-cultivation skills of local farmers and foresters requiring no pesticides and little irrigation and fertilizer.About bambooMoso bamboo plantletsBamboo is a woody and herbaceous member of the Bambusoidae Munro subfamily of the Poaceae or Gramineae family of grasses. There are some 1,500 species of bamboo, characterized by woody culms, infrequent flowering and complex patterns of branching, leafing and rhizome growth. Not all species are commercially attractive; those species which are tend to be in the tropical and temperate growing zones.There are two main “types” of bamboo, as defined by the behavior of their rhizome structure. Running (monopodial or leptomorphic) bamboos possess a rhizome structure which will extend or “run” to provide opportunities for new culm growth. Clumping (sympodial or pachymorphic) bamboos possess a rhizome that does not travel substantially beyond the original planted culm.Moso or Phyllostachys Pubescens/Edulis, a running bamboo, is a highly valuable species and is commonly used in the manufacture of building products and textile fiber. Due to its high quality fiber and high productivity within the soil and climate of the Black Belt, Resource Fiber/Alabama plans to use moso within its fiber portfolio in Alabama. RF/A may add other species to the portfolio, based on expert analysis of end product requirements and expected productivity performance.Bamboo Facts:It’s a grass – growing up to 2 feet per day reaching its maximum height of ~80 feet in just two months;Plant once – may be annually harvested on a rotational basis for decades between three and six years depending on the speciesBamboo has greater compressive strength than concrete and about the same strength-to-weight ratio as steel in tension;Bamboo’s leafy canopy sequesters carbon and releases ~35 percent more oxygen than a comparable cluster of hardwood trees; in the renewing process, the plant takes the carbon from the air and holds it within its culm and root system – it is not released from the roots until the plant dies and soil in which the plant decomposes is turned;Requires limited resources such as water, fertilizer and pesticidesExcellent for rejuvenating degraded lands and protecting against soil erosion;In addition to the culms, the remainder of the plant may be used in rural livelihoods – shoots for food, leaves for fodder, and branches for items such as brooms and for firewood;Resistant to extreme weather.Bamboo flooring in flat grain caramelized Courtesy of Teragren bambooCreating new industries for AlabamaIndustries will demonstrate leadership and vitality across many domains and sectors of business, including, but not limited to:Agriculture (farming, agro-forestry);Energy (charcoal, ethanol, pellets, biomass);Building products (flooring, architectural panels, trusses, joists, furniture, engineered building components);Food and beverage (animal feedstock, bamboo shoots, beer);Water and air purification (activated charcoal/carbon powder, carbon sequestration);Bio-plastics (alternative to petroleum-based plastics);Transportation (automotive components);Aerospace (aviation industry components); andSpecialty textiles (anti-bacterial applications for healthcare, bedding, clothing, towels, performance apparel).For more information, contact us.