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Ohio soybean growers tout biodiesel use
Ohio Correspondent

ADA, Ohio — Using a 20-percent blend of soy biodiesel in diesel fuel tanks on the farm makes sense for farmers, said Tom Fontana of the Ohio Soybean Council.

He said farmers and ranchers are the third-largest user of diesel. “The 20 percent blends make the most sense, for now,” he said. “It is a very high-performing, very capable fuel.”

Fontana said biodiesel can increase the time between maintenance, and no engine modification is needed to operate equipment on biodiesel.

“The engine is going to run cleaner and burn cleaner,” he said.

Biodiesel is a good lubricant and a good cleaner, he said.

“It’ll clean out your tank, and it’ll clean out your fuel lines,” he said. For that reason, he said changing fuel filters more often than usual may be necessary after starting to use biodiesel.

Fontana said there are several other benefits to using biodiesel rather than petroleum-based fuel. It’s made from renewable resources, it reduces air pollution, and it smells better. “Soy biodiesel is very good for the environment and the atmosphere, ” he said.

Use of biodiesel has increased from 1 million gallons in 1999 to 75 million gallons in 2005. “It will be well above 100 million gallons this year,” he said.

The increase last year was partially due to a tax credit that went into effect making the use of biodiesel more affordable.

In addition, Fontana said the EPA has mandated that regular diesel fuel have low sulphur emissions. But he said taking out sulphur can reduce the fuel’s lubricity. Adding soy biodiesel to the tank helps solve the problem by returning the lubricity.

Those factors will lead to a further increase in biodiesel use. As use of soybean oil increases, Fontana said the availability of soybean meal also will increase. Meal is used mainly to feed livestock.

“Animal agriculture is important to farmers,” he said. “They’re your number one customers.”

Fontana said it takes 20 million bushels of soybeans to make 30 million gallons of fuel.

Farmers can look forward to a higher demand for soybeans.

“There will be a positive effect on the price of soybeans per bushel,” he said.

In Ohio, Fontana said there are 85 soy biodiesel distributors, 25 of which are at retail locations. There are two production facilities – one in the Cincinnati area producing about 25 million gallons a year and a small one in the Defiance area making about 1 million gallons.

He expects more plants to be built within the next two years.

“There are a lot of people calling us about building biodiesel production facilities,” he said. “It has a lot of momentum now. And we think it will only continue to grow.”

This farm news was published in the March 15, 2006 issue of Farm World.