Chastai F06 Dept Seminar

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Oregon Agriculture and Potential Biodiesel Feedstocks Tom Chastain Head Advisor and Agronomist Department of Crop and Soil Science


Solar Energy and Biodiesel Biodiesel is an alternative fuel derived from the sun via green plants. The production and utilization of energy in the life cycle of biodiesel is characterized by a series of reduction and oxidation reactions. Reduced atmospheric carbon in plant oil is oxidized and energy is released when the oil is consumed in a diesel engine. Oxidation in the human body or a plant is known as respiration, while oxidation in an engine is known as combustion. Both processes release energy, but they also release CO2 to the atmosphere. Biodiesel combustion releases CO2 recently captured from the atmosphere while combustion of petroleum-based diesel releases CO2 extracted from the atmosphere millions of years ago. US Dept. of Energy photo


Solar Energy and Biodiesel Green plants capture solar energy and CO2 from the atmosphere and convert this energy into a stable chemical form. Instead of solar panels to capture solar energy, green plants employ a canopy of leaves and stems to collect the sun’s energy. Conversion of solar energy to chemical energy by plants is known as photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a reduction process – carbon from atmospheric CO2 is reduced in several steps to a reduced and stable form, a carbohydrate. CO2 CO2 + H2O CH2O Oxidized Carbon Reduced Carbon


Solar Energy and Biodiesel Carbohydrates are transported from the leaf, most commonly in the form of sucrose (table sugar), to the developing seed. In the seed, the sucrose is converted to oil. Oil is stored in seeds to provide energy for the growing seedling during seed germination. But this oil may also be harvested and used for human dietary consumption or may be converted to biodiesel. Oil Canola Seed CH2O


Oregon Agriculture and Potential Biodiesel Feedstocks Oregon farmers need rotation crops. Wheat and grass seed crops rank among the state’s most valuable crops, yet producers need economic rotations to aid in pest control and to diversify agricultural enterprises. Biodiesel feedstock crops may be the rotation crops that farmers need. Growing crops for biodiesel would permit farmers to regain a stake in their own energy production. Farmers are large consumers of diesel fuel.


Growing Fuels for Agriculture Prior to the advent of mechanized agriculture, farms produced much of the their energy needs on the farm. Some of the increase in agricultural productivity can be attributed to the import of fuel from outside the farming operation. The questions are: Can we grow our own fuels and can we grow enough? Does it make sense to grow our own fuels?


US Average Annual Precipitation Climate and Biodiesel Feedstock Production Map Source – Oregon Climate Service, OSU Much of the land mass of the Eastern US is wetter than the Western US. Most areas within the west are arid or semi-arid whereas a few areas have a wet climate. Summer rainfall patterns favor summer annual crops such as corn and soybeans which grow in summer and are primarily produced east of the Rocky Mountains.


Average July Precipitation Oregon Map Source – Oregon Climate Service, OSU The dry summer climate of Oregon favors early maturing crops such as winter annuals, spring annuals, and early maturing perennials. Climate and Biodiesel Feedstock Production


Map Source – Oregon Climate Service, OSU Mild winter climate permits production of winter annuals unlike the northern Great Plains states.


Winter Annual Biodiesel Feedstock Crops Planting Flowering Harvest Growth and Development Crops: Winter Canola Winter Flax


Spring and Summer Annual Biodiesel Feedstock Crops Planting Flowering Harvest Growth and Development Crops: Spring Canola Yellow Mustard Safflower Sunflower Soybeans Spring Flax Camelina


Canola (Brassica spp.) Winter canola crop in flower near Corvallis Canola is an oil seed crop bred specifically for human consumption - first released in Canada in the 1970s. Spring and winter annuals in the mustard family. Canola is distinguished from rapeseed in that the seed has: -Low erucic acid (less than 2%) in the oil -Low glucosinolates (less than 30 micromoles per gram) in the meal after oil extraction. Rapeseed is a Brassica oil seed crop that has high levels of glucosinolate in the meal but may/may not have low erucic acid oil. -High erucic acid rapeseed is known as industrial oil rapeseed - oil used for lubricants, etc. Low erucic acid rapeseed is known as edible oil rapeseed.


Canola (Brassica spp.) Winter canola – Historical grower yields have averaged 2,300 pounds per acre in the Willamette Valley while the statewide average is 1,800 pounds per acre. OSU trials in the 1980s recorded yields ranging from 2,400 to 4,000 pounds per acre. Recent trials with new varieties have produced yields ranging from 2,900 to 4,800 pounds per acre. Spring canola - yields nearly half of winter canola - might be a good fit in some situations. Fall or spring plantings of spring canola in the mild conditions of the Willamette Valley yield about 2,000 lbs/acre. Canola plant in the green pod stage


Canola (Brassica spp.) Presses working on canola seed at Pendleton Grain Growers. No investment is needed in a canola breeding program - adapted, non-GMO varieties are available from the University of Idaho. Meal remaining after oil extraction is a rich source of protein (35%) – a valuable livestock feed and an additional source of income. Based on 2,400 pounds seed per acre - growers could expect about 1,500 pounds of meal per acre with meal values sometimes ranging between $100 and $200 per ton.


Spring Nitrogen and Cultivar Effects on Winter Canola Seed Yield in the Willamette Valley (Chastain, Garbacik, Ehrensing, and Wysocki, 2005)


Oregon canola acreage and price Canola field near Pendleton Oregon’s farm producers have some experience with canola, but low prices for food oil have limited canola acreage in the state.


Yellow Mustard (Sinapsis alba) A spring annual crop in the mustard family. The crop grows and matures very quickly – about 4 months between planting and harvest. Yellow mustard is a very competitive crop and has less need for weed control than many other crops. Will not cross with other Brassica species crops. Yellow mustard seedling (top), closed crop canopy (right)


Yellow Mustard (Sinapsis alba) Oil concentration in the seed (27% vs. 40%) is lower than canola. Seed yield potential for the crop is 3,000 lbs./acre, so oil yield is about 100 gallons/acre. We harvested around 2,000 lbs./acre this year. A flexible crop that can be sold as condiment instead if oil markets are weak. High glucosinolate content in meal makes the meal unsuitable for animal feed, but may have a place in the natural pest control market. Yellow mustard crop in flower


Camelina (Camelina sativa) Another spring annual oil seed crop in the mustard family. Seed is very small, about 1/3 the size of canola. Limited production in Montana at this time. Breeding efforts are in progress in Montana. Trials were sown this spring for the 1st time in eastern Oregon and will be evaluated this spring in the Willamette Valley. No information is available at this time on seed yield potential under Oregon conditions. Camelina research plots near Pendleton


Sunflower (Helianthus annus) and Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) Irrigated sunflower seed field near LaGrande Sunflower and safflower are summer annuals in the sunflower family. Sunflower and safflower seeds are excellent sources of oil. The meal can be used for animal feed. Sunflower and safflower are both adapted to Oregon conditions. However, both crops need irrigation for high oil yield and therefore might not be economical to grow. Safflower oil yields under irrigation range from 57 to 94 gallons per acre. Without irrigation, safflower oil yields can drop to 12 gallons per acre. Sunflower oil yields under irrigation range from 90 to 100 gallons per acre. Sunflower oil concentration in the seed ranges from 40-45%. No breeding program is present in the region for the development of varieties.


Flax (Linum usitatissimum) Flax is the source of linseed oil. Seed oil contents range from 30 to 34%. Both spring and winter forms are available. No specific breeding efforts are present in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon was once a producer of flax for linen, also known as fiber flax, so the crop is well adapted here. Research trials on fiber flax production were conducted by OSU in the 1990s and we hope to build on those recent efforts with new trials this year. Flax in flower near Corvallis


Soybeans (Glycine max) A summer annual member of the legume family. The most important oil seed crop in the US. Extensive work has been done by OSU to determine the adaptation of soybeans to Oregon conditions. Low oils yields limit the utilization of soybean in western Oregon, while some production may be possible under irrigation in parts of eastern Oregon. USDA-NRCS photos Soybean plants (top) and pods at harvest time (right)

Biodiesel – Can we grow enough feedstock in Oregon?: 

Biodiesel – Can we grow enough feedstock in Oregon? Oregonians consume 800 million gallons of diesel fuel annually. These estimates do not include production of biodiesel from waste products. Note – total crop acreage in Oregon is 4.4 million acres.


Total harvested crop land acres in the Willamette Valley = 909,866 Grass seed acres in the Willamette Valley = 469,120 Portland Eugene Willamette Valley If grown on 100,000 acres and producing a seed yield of 2,400 pounds per acre, a Willamette Valley canola crop could produce 63 million gallons of B20 biodiesel annually. With an additional 100,000 acres from central and eastern parts of Oregon – 125 million gallons of B20 are possible statewide. Can we grow enough feedstock?

Energy Balance of Potential Oregon Biofuel Crops: 

Energy Balance of Potential Oregon Biofuel Crops


Estimated energy budget for canola production Canola seed Assumes 1800 lbs/acre seed yield 19 lbs seed = 1 gallon oil (McIntosh et al., 1983)


Government and Biodiesel Feedstock Crop Production Research - Farmers are more likely to adopt the production of biodiesel crops if the risk factors are understood and management practices for minimizing risk are developed. Another role of research is to provide the best science-based information for public policy makers. Incentive Programs - Biodiesel producers can receive cost-share payments from USDA for feedstock purchases. A number of loan and grant programs are available to producers and businesses. The UDSA-NRCS also has some producer incentives that could be used to promote biodiesel crop production. Education and Outreach – The University of Idaho’s Biodiesel Education Program, OSU’s K-12 program with rural high schools, more. Policy and Regulation - “Lead, follow, or get out of the way”


Biodiesel Feedstock Crops: Fact or Fiction? 1. Agriculture will not play a role in biodiesel production because more energy is required to produce feedstock crops than can be harvested from the crop – Fiction, Cornell University’s David Pimentel should find a new hobby. 2. Precious farmland should not be devoted to energy production since the land is needed for food production – Fiction, millions of US farm land acres (3 million acres in the PNW alone) have been taken out of production to reduce food oversupply, yet this problem continues. 3. Energy crop production is not environmentally sustainable, this type of crop production depletes the soil – Fiction, biodiesel crops benefit the soil and are ideally suited for organic production. Producing locally-grown, renewable fuel is sustainable.


Energy Challenges for Oregon Agriculture Obstacles: Traditional Institutional Political The increasing cost of energy and declining availability of fossil fuels poses a problem for agriculture. Can farm production of energy supply a substantive portion of on-farm and off-farm energy needs? USDA-NRCS photo

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