Institute encourages canola farming in SW Georgia

Published 7:22 pm Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday, Bainbridge State College hosted the Canola Institute at the Charles H. Kribo Regional Center.

The Institute was a half-day workshop featuring several experts from the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences speaking on the ins and outs of canola farming.

Canola is regarded as a prime winter crop that can be planted in November and harvested in May. According to the Canola institute, it also has the potential to be more profitable than wheat.

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Meredian, Danimer and AgroCRUSH representatives were also present, encouraging local farmers to bring more non-GMO canola farming to Southwest Georgia.

Canola oil is the primary food source given to the naturally occurring soil bacteria that are vital in Meredian’s production of PHA plastics, which is used in sustainable packaging.

“An important consideration in producing canola is the ability to sell it at a convenient local market for a good price. Producers should find a buyer before committing to produce the crop and find out how canola will be priced,” according to a 2013 report by the UGA College Cooperative Extension.

Meredian and AgroCRUSH have encouraged local farmers participate in the canola “planting surge” scheduled for fall 2014, according to the AgroCRUSH website.

Hal Mills was also present at the workshop, sharing with attendees how he uses unmanned aerial vehicles to study the health of crops using Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) imaging.

The process requires studying the wavelengths of near-infrared sunlight reflected by the plants, which allows researchers to know more about the chlorophyll content of the plants. Chlorophyll is a pigment in plant leaves that is used in photosynthesis.

“This is cutting edge,” Mills said. “In a few years, they’re all going to be doing it. We’re in the figuring it out stage now.”