13 universities contribute to Ag research - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

13 universities contribute to Ag research

October 18, 2007  

Moultrie-  University research is changing the agriculture industry, whether it's ways to make plants pest-resistant, or an alternative fuel for trucks and tractors. Thirteen different Universities are looking at ways to improve a farmers output.

Can you imagine using pond scum to power your truck or car? How about chicken fat? Researchers at the University of Georgia can. It's part of their exhibit at the Sunbelt Ag Expo. In fact they say oil from those products and alcohol from others can be used as green alternative fuel sources.

"We've looked at using watermelons and any kind of bakery waste all these things which often go to the landfill can be converted into fuel," said Dr. John Goodrum, of the University of Georgia Engineering Department.

At the University of Florida, researchers are stripping down the DNA of peanuts, grass, strawberries, and other plants hoping to engineer better yields for farmers.

"Crops that use less water, crops that use less pesticide, crops that use less fertilizer, these are all things that they look at improving with genetic improvement," said Ryan Atwood, University of Florida, Extension Agent.

At Auburn, horticulturists say drought conditions, have prompted researchers to look at what can be done to help plants survive with less water.

"Investigate plant varieties and selections that are more drought tolerant, try to develop irrigation systems , watering systems that work better," said Dave Williams, Auburn University Horticulturist.

Researchers say their work is a glimpse at the future, what may be done on farms two or three years from now.

"We're not just doing research to do research the idea is to do research that can be applied in the field and make our farmers more productive in our country, " said Atwood.

It's those applications farmers say that could help their bottom line and help them produce higher quality more abundant crops. Some of that research has already been put to use in the field.

In April, all 47 buses at the University of Georgia started using bio-diesel fuel made from chicken fat.

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