New tractor runs on peanut power - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New tractor runs on peanut power

July 11, 2006

Moultrie  --  One of Georgia's signature crops can help fuel your body, but can peanuts do the same for your farm equipment?  

With gas prices so high, farmers at today's Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition Field Day talked a lot about biodiesel fuel alternatives.    

It's an ironic picture, the tractor in the peanut field is fueled by the very plant it's tending.

The National Peanut Lab in Dawson made farmers think about the fuel alternative. "We definitely could almost have a whole new energy crop in the peanut, you know the farmer may grow part of his acreage for the edible market and the other part exclusively for this biodiesel market," said Tifton Peanut Farmer Robert Curry. 

Using peanut oil for fuel is an old concept, what's new is getting farmers to grow a crop specifically for biodiesel fuel, taking one ton of peanuts and converting it to about 100 gallons of biodiesel fuel.

"It would have to be cost effective, where it can be grown and turned into it," said Curry. 

South Georgia's crop is mainly grown for consumption. Last year there was a surplus crop and with falling prices, using the oil for fuel could give farmers another market.  "I'm really surprised why we haven't been more aggressive on alternative fuels."

Researchers say it's a reality and could be done in south Georgia within the next 18 months, an aggressive push must be made and next year's Farm Bill may help fuel the fire.  "I envision a day when a farmer will grow his own fuel, where he would set aside a few acres of peanuts that are for this market, that is his fuel for the next year," said Wilson Faircloth of the National Peanut Laboratory. 

And the market would have to make it worth their while to consider using this crop for more than a snack.

Farmers question whether south Georgia could grow enough peanuts to fuel local farm equipment. A farmer said today he uses 30,000 gallons of fuel a year, and an acre of peanuts will only make 100 gallons of fuel.

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