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Here Comes the Sun(flower Power)

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
July 23, 2008

Sunflower oil contains about 93 percent of the energy used in diesel fuel. One acre of sunflowers can yield approximately 50 gallons of oil. A few years ago, four acres of land at Kingman Farm were planted with sunflowers to see if it would be feasible to use locally-grown crops for biodiesel.

But none of those facts are what first come to mind when you happen upon the fields of flowers now in full bloom at the Route 155 farm. Their collective yellow hue is spectacular.

The sunflowers were planted at Kingman Farm as a result of a partnership between local farmer Dorn Cox and UNH Cooperative Extension. Cox wanted to use the alternative fuel to power his farm equipment.

According to Becky Grube, Cooperative Extension's sustainable horticulture specialist, the four acres at Kingman will bear about 250 gallons of oil. For a large-scale operation, where the yield is 25,000 gallons a year or more, production cost is about $3 per gallon.

So, at this point, UNH’s sunflowers are primarily for the research—and the beauty.

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