Farmers, Congressman, flock to see bio-diesel refinery - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Farmers, Congressman, flock to see bio-diesel refinery

August 7, 2007

Terrell County -- Dozens of farmers from across South Georgia came to Terrell County Tuesday to see the latest agriculture research from the USDA.

The National Peanut Research Laboratory demonstrated new developments in irrigation and energy conservation. The star attraction  was a bio-diesel refinery that could help farmers turn peanuts into fuel to run their machinery.

Farmer Murray Irvin came to the National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson to see the peanut bio-diesel refinery they developed. He likes the idea of making fuel to run his farm machinery from his own crops. "You can take the peanuts and make your own bio-diesel. We run about 8 to 10 diesel engines, trucks and all."

With the price of foreign oil products soaring, researchers at the Peanut Lab are working to develop these refineries. They set up a working model at the lab. It's simple enough that growers can make their own.

South Georgia farmers want to learn more. USDA Ag Engineer Chris Butts said "We're getting a lot of calls just about every week about bio-diesel. We're in a start up phase, so we can't give them a lot of answers yet, but we can give them a lot of hope."

Congressman Sanford Bishop also came for a look at the bio-diesel refinery, saying that peanuts for fuel could be a great potential economic booster for South Georgia. "As we're able to feed America over the years, if we are able to fuel America it certainly will relieve the tension that has developed because of our dependence on foreign oil," Bishop said. 

The lab's field day also showed the farmers their latest developments in soil and water conservation. Murray Irvin said it has been so dry this summer, that irrigation and fuel costs are eating up the profit from his corn crop.  "We're hoping to just break even on the mess. And I've got some corn contracted at almost four dollars. But I'm not going to make anything out of it, because all the inputs went up."

 So bio-diesel and water conservation developments at the Peanut Research Lab he hopes next year could help him and other Georgia growers run more efficient and profitable farms.

 The USDA's Peanut Research Laboratory also showed farmers their developments in furrow diking, a new way of plowing that catches more water in furrows, and requires less irrigation.

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