A PROTOTYPE oilseed processor and bio-diesel unit is expected to be fully operational next month and could pave the way for farmers to develop on-farm fuel as an alternative to skyrocketing diesel prices.
Project manager Paul Carmody said small grower groups could be formed to fund the construction of similar machines at a cost of between $40,000-$50,000.
It is expected to have a throughput of about 125 kilograms per hour, producing up to 300 litres of bio-diesel a day.
The unit made its debut at the Dowerin Field Days in August and is the first of its kind in Australia.
It can be used to produce bio-fuels, bio-lubricants and other bio-materials from canola and other oilseeds.
The Agriculture Department is carrying out a trial to assess the efficiency of bio-diesel in selected vehicles at three research stations.
It is aiming to replace 25,000L of mineral diesel and will promote the alternative fuel to regional and farmer groups.
Mr Carmody, who has recently taken up a new appointment as the manager of the Local Farmer Group Network, said the philosophy behind the project was to empower rural users to become less dependent on conventional power and fuel supplies.
The unit comprises two oilseed presses, mixing tanks, filters, decanting tank, pumps, augers and fuel storage tanks.
The on-board diesel generator is used to power augers and pumps and the entire unit can run on its own bio-diesel.
The unit will be on show at the Avondale Harvest Festival next month.
It was developed over a four-year period by Mr Carmody and WA No Till Farmers Association research and development officer Mike Collins.
For further details contact Glenda Smith at the Agriculture Department's Northam Office on 9690 2000.