In June 19-25 issue By Derek Aaron Times Journal Reporter
RUSSELL SPRINGS - Russell County's farmers are being hit hard by rising diesel fuel costs, which as of Tuesday are around $4.70 per gallon, nationwide, according to E. Raymond Thompson, Russell County's extension agent for agriculture and natural resources.
"I hear it everyday," Thompson said about local farmer's pain at the pumps.
That's nearly 70 percent higher than what diesel cost per gallon just one year ago.
Thompson said that the late spring, early summer season meant both the planting of crops and the gathering in of hay by farmers, both of which require the costly diesel fuel to run their machinery.
"It's costing them a bundle to get crops planted this spring and to get hay harvested," he said.
"It takes a lot of fuel, not just on the combining, but the hauling of the grain and then, for example, the drying of wheat using propane," Thompson explained. "It is a very, very energy intense business."
To make matters worse, Thompson said most local farmers wouldn't realize how hard their pockets had been hit by the surging fuel prices until all crops have been harvested and the monies from that begin to trickle in.
Thompson said he had spoken to several local corn farmers who reported that it was costing them between $400 and $500 an acre to put an acre of corn out, including herbicides, fertilizer and fuel. Harvesting cost is not included in these staggering numbers because that comes at a later time, he said.
"This is just cash costs," he said.
Thompson said that last week he attended a field day at the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture where the future prospects of biofuel was discussed.
"Some of their research was quite interesting," he said.
For instance, Thompson said one thing being looked at to make ethanol was a corncob, an unlikely source. Also on the list was sweet sorghum, any number of varieties of a cane-like plant with a high sugar content.
Ethanol is the most widely used renewable biofuel today. It is made by converting starch crops into sugars, after that the sugars are fermented into ethanol and finally distilled. It is hoped by many that ethanol, as a renewable fuel, can one day fuel vehicles like gasoline and diesel fuel does today.
"We have some engineers looking into both of those," he said. "Almost everyone agrees that corn is an important step in producing ethanol, but it is not the final resort."
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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