Gas Week

EWN Publishing

Regional groups can develop biodiesel industry in their local community: “starting block” for sustainable industry

Posted by gasweek on 11 October, 2007

A new report has found that by working together to refine oil crops specifically grown for on-farm fuel supplies, regional groups could develop an economically sustainable biodiesel industry in their local community, reported Farm Weekly (27/9/2007, p.20).

Local initiative: The launch of the report coincided with a special forum in Canberra on the same subject, where farmers, policy experts, economists and others from the grains industry toyed with the idea of a grower model which took local ownership of renewable energy production. Forum convenor, Daryl Young, of Australian Agricultural Crop Technologies, said the report emphasised the need for the agricultural sector to produce and consume its own fuel requirements as the “starting block” for a sustainable biofuels industry that could be integrated with other crops.

Crop-rotation profitable: Young’s interest in biodiesel was triggered by research into crop that can be grown in a rotation with wheat. Early research showed Indian Mustard (Brassica juncea) had the potential to improve returns per hectare by up to $500 compared to wheat on wheat rotations, but there needed to be an end market, which was when the focus shifted to fuel. Young said biofuels have promised farmers some hope, but until now “hadn’t delivered”, adding the prospects of biofuels had been “talked up” for the past seven years. He said by growing Brassica crops for food and fuel purposes, growers were essentially creating “their own end market”.

Interest in Vic and WA: “The regional grower group model utilises normal farm business principles of using a piece of land to make an income,” Young said. “But through the regional model, farmers are working at supplying their own fuel, which makes up 25 per cent of farm input costs.” Bendigo Bank’s Leigh Watkins headed the company’s community energy initiative, and had two trial user groups and four community grower groups underway in Victoria, with interest also from WA.

Farm Weekly, 27/9/2007, p. 20

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