Farmers learn about new energy source: Switch grass - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Farmers learn about new energy source: Switch grass

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By Christian Jennings - bio | email

MOULTRIE, GA (WALB) - Hundreds of farmers learned about the latest in new seed varieties, precision agriculture, irrigation and more Tuesday at Spence Field in Moultrie.

The Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition held its annual Field Day.

It gave farmers a chance to check out crops in their growing stages.

Farmers are always looking for ways to improve their bottom line. Tuesday at field day, farmers were presented with two crops new to south georgia, that may do just that.

The rain held off Tuesday afternoon as shuttles carried eager farmers across 600 acres of crops.

"Traditionally we've had cotton, peanuts, corn, and soy. This year we've added switchgrass and alfalfa," said Chip Blalock, Executive Director of the Expo.

The two new crops were hot topics among farmers because of their high yields, and cutting edge opportunities.

Switchgrass isn't widely grown here in south georgia, yet. But it can be used to produce ethanol. And ag experts hope this will be the next energy source produced here in south georgia.

"It's ability to be broken down to fuel or pellitized to reduce emissions from coal shows it's a good product," said Frank Hardimon with Ceres Inc.

"Farmers are intrigued in new alternatives. Especially when talking about subsidizing our need for energy in our country," he said.

Field day participants also got to learn about two new varieties of alfalfa that can grow in our area, often harvested as hay or grown as forage for cattle.

"It's a valuable crop. We've developed varieties here in Tifton and it's adapted to this area. It ives farmers another crop to work with," said Donald Wood with the UGA Forage Breeding Department.

It was hard to take in all field day had to offer. More than 20 companies and universities were represented.

"That's our main goal. To provide educational information for farmers so they can go back and improve their bottom line," said Blalock.

The latest on precision agriculture and GPS guided irrigation were also popular discussion topics. One product shown that will be featured at the Expo was a system that farmers can control on a laptop from their truck, office, or in the field.

The 32nd Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition will take place at Spence Field October 20th through the 22nd.

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