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Pacific Biodiesel readies for first harvest at its Maui sunflower biofuel crop

By Staff | May 18, 2017

“With this combine, we’ll be able to harvest a variety of crops that we’re planning to grow in the future, including safflower, canola and maybe even chickpeas in addition to the sunflowers,” said Bob King, president and founder of Pacific Biodiesel. PHOTO BY PACIFIC BIODIESEL.

CENTRAL MAUI – After hosting an Earth Day community event to celebrate the first blooms in its Maui sunflower biofuel crop, Pacific Biodiesel Technologies recently delivered its combine harvester to the crop site to prepare for the first harvest, expected to begin this month when the sunflowers have fully matured.

Pacific Biodiesel purchased the combine from a family farm in Northern California. It will be used to mechanically harvest the sunflowers and other oil and grain crops, operating on 100 percent biodiesel produced by the company at its refinery on the Big Island.

“We look forward to experimenting with harvesting our first sunflowers,” said Bob King, president and founder of Pacific Biodiesel.

The current sunflower field sits on 14 acres of an initial 115-acre crop project site that will help expand diversified agriculture by growing combine-harvested oil crops on land previously used for sugar cane production. Currently, this is the largest biofuel crop project in the State of Hawaii and the only biofuel farming operation in the state running on 100 percent renewable fuel, demonstrating the company’s sustainable, community-based model of agriculture and renewable energy.

Pacific Biodiesel planted sunflowers as its first biofuel crop on Maui, applying the knowledge learned from its past experience and partnership with the U.S. military as part of the Hawaii Military Biofuels Crop Program, which demonstrated the planting, growing and processing of biodiesel feedstocks on Oahu and the Big Island.

King explained the company’s sustainable farming practices: “We have carefully chosen our crops to be mindful of the inputs. We are also actively researching and using alternatives to chemical fertilizer/pesticides, including compost from Maui EKO to replace fertilizer and crop rotation to reduce pests. So far we have used no irrigation, but we will during hot summer months. We have used no herbicides or pesticides, and we don’t plan to ever use them. Also, these are non-GMO crops.”

“Last week, we planted our second sunflower crop adjacent to the first crop; it should begin blooming two months from now. We have begun planning for safe ways to enjoy the next crop and will announce those options in the future.”

Pacific Biodiesel hosted a free community event powered by biodiesel completely off the grid at its Maui biofuel crop site on April 22, known around the world as Earth Day. Following weeks of community interest as the blooming sunflowers generated attention island-wide and dominated local social media, the company’s Earth Day event provided access for the public to visit the farm to celebrate the inaugural crop’s sunflower blooms.

Vice President Kelly King said, “As eye-catching symbols of sustainability, these beautiful blooms showcase Pacific Biodiesel’s community-based model of agriculture, clean energy and food – and they give us hope for our state’s green economy future.”

Visit the Pacific Biodiesel website at www.biodiesel.com for more information, frequently asked questions and videos about the company’s Maui biofuel crop.