REG Newton biodiesel plant seeds Monarch Fueling Station

By The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association | March 31, 2020

Iowa’s spring planting season is just around the corner and Renewable Energy Group’s biodiesel plant near Newton is getting a head start with a unique kind of planting.

Local Pheasants Forever representatives recently conducted a seeding of native grasses, milkweed and other plants that attract pollinators. The mixture has a special emphasis on milkweed plants, the only plant monarchs can lay their eggs on.

Kevin Reynolds, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association habitat establishment coordinator, helped REG get started with the project last year. He said while the majority of the plants will spend the first growing season developing roots, there will be some growth in the spring.

“It will take the habitat a few growing seasons to become fully established but some species will pop up as early as this coming spring,” Reynolds said. “It takes some patience in the beginning, but after the first few years REG will be on their way to making an important impact for the monarch butterfly.”

REG Newton’s Monarch Fueling Station spans one and a half acres. To prepare for seeding, plant employees previously focused on eliminating nonnative grasses from the area. 

“This is an exciting next step that is bringing us closer to the goal of providing important habitat for Iowa’s monarch butterflies,” said Daniel Schoenfelder, plant manager. “We are looking forward to seeing how this project will impact Iowa’s natural environment and provide a boost to the monarch butterfly.”

The Monarch Fueling Station Project was established by the IRFA in partnership with the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium in December 2017. It is a program to help Iowa’s ethanol and biodiesel plants establish patches of monarch habitat on plant grounds.

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