2014-03-26 / Front Page

Canola crops both beautiful and good for farmers and ecosystem

by Terry Toole

This is a portion of a large field of canola near the Miller/Decatur County line in Eldorendo. This is a portion of a large field of canola near the Miller/Decatur County line in Eldorendo. This is National Ag Week, and this area depends on agriculture for our existence.

Peanuts are tasty, cotton helps clothe the world, chickens, hogs and cattle help feed the world. This area does our part in supplying the world with the best of all of these products and many more.

The above photo is a crop that could be another way of fulfilling needs that we have, but will not clutter our environment.

If you have never seen a field of canola growing, you have missed seeing one of the most beautiful crops grown in this area. This very large field of canola was grown by Greg Calhoun of Colquitt, one of the largest, and most innovative agri/ businessmen farming today.

Greg stated that he and other agri-business people are very excited about the prospects of this crop and its uses.

Michael E. Smith, vice president, of Meredian, Inc., gave us some history of their company and the agriculture connection.

Calhoun Richardson, grandson of Greg and Edie Calhoun. Calhoun Richardson, grandson of Greg and Edie Calhoun. Meredian, Inc. is a privately held US company headquartered in Bainbridge, GA. Meredian Inc. is a combination of Meredian and Danimer being formed between 2004 and 2007 respectively. The two companies combined form the worlds leading reactive extrusion and biopolymer company. These companies create customized biopolymers based on a new, completely biodegradable product called PHA and can develop a wide range of performance characteristics to replace the petroleum plastic in use today.

Meredian’s PHAis created in a fermentation process whereby bacteria consume canola oil and convert the carbon from the oil into a biopolymer. It is then compounded through a process called reactive extrusion in order to inject a range of properties into the PHA to achieve the performance characteristics similar to the petroleum based plastic it is replacing.

Meredian Inc. owns a portfolio of 125 global patents and applications utilized for the PHA and biodegradable process.

Meredian is located in an area of the United States that has an abundance of farmland and innovative farmers that create the perfect scenario for a partnership to provide the vegetable oil for the biopolymer process. Several local farmers have taken Meredian’s proprietary seed and planted approximately 600 acres near the manufacturing site in an effort to encourage farmers to consider this unique crop and determine best practices on growing the best yields.

The vegetable oil is the single largest cost to Meredian in the manufacturing process. Considering the amount of money required to secure the vegetable oil, Meredian has decided to vertically integrate the supply chain by working with local farmers to establish an arrangement to grow canola and crush the seeds into oil. This relationship will enable Meredian to vertically integrate the supply chain and will also help turn potentially fallow ground into a revenue generating winter crop for the farmers. The term to describe this integration is “Agro-facturing” where agriculture products from the farmer’s fields meet the needs of a high tech manufacturing facility. Having control of this critical feedstock supply through a farmer/Meredian relationship is important as Meredian manages costs through the growth of the company.

The facility will be located adjacent to the Meredian operation in an available

1,000,000 square foot building with a rail spur, extensive power distribution equipment, existing offices, and many other advantageous features. The proximity of the crush plant allows the oil to be pumped from the plant directly to Meredian’s storage containers, therefore eliminating additional transportation expense.

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