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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Overview
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1 - Cover Crops
2 - Conservation Tillage
3 - Organic Potato Production
4 - BioEnergy Research-Oilseeds: Biodiesel
5 - BioEnergy Research-Perennial Biomass Crops: Ethanol
6 - BioEnergy Research-Biochar
BioEnergy Research-Oilseeds: Biodiesel

·         Develop and evaluate bioenergy crop production options in irrigated specialty crop rotations and utilize the byproducts of bioenergy production to control weeds and disease and enhance soil quality.


Oilseeds: Biodiesel

Sustainability is a requirement for all new biobased technologies. Sustainability is dependent upon; acceptable environmental impacts of products; economic viability for all participants; and a positive social impact of the product and its production. We have initiated a series of studies evaluating a number of oilseed crops grown to maturity for an emerging biodiesel market and how they will fit into current high value irrigated vegetable cropping systems. We are evaluating five oil seed crops that can be grown in the PNW, as well as, nationally. These include: spring and winter rapeseed, mustard, sunflower, safflower and camelina.

Fig. 1. Winter canola in mid-March under center pivot irrigation near Othello, Washington (photo by Becky Lyle).


Our data indicates that it will require approximately 30,000 acres to support a 5 M gal biodiesel facility using such crops as safflower or winter rapeseed. In the Midwest, production of biodiesel using soybeans averages 1 M gallons on equivalent acreage. The developing U.S. bioenergy market is an opportunity for PNW growers to fill a feedstock production niche. The use of petrodiesel in the U.S. averages about 43 billion gallons a year. The U.S. currently has an oil supply problem with the Middle East, as well as competition from developments in China and India. U.S. agriculture can add to the fuel pipeline by producing biodiesel which would have significant impacts on local economies.”


Oilseed Production under Deficit Irrigation and Variable N Fertilization The production of oilseed crops represents a unique opportunity for PNW producers to provide a biodiesel feedstock for a renewable energy industry. The inclusion of oilseeds in rotation offers producers an additional strategy to improve farm economies and gain additional benefits that improve soil and water conservation, reduce pest cycles, and diversify cropping systems. Canola, rapeseed and safflower can supply oil for the emerging biofuel industry. Oilseed yields under deficit irrigation (70-80% of ET) ranged from 3000 to 4500 lbs with oil concentrations of 35 to 40% depending upon crop variety and year of production.

Safflower under deficit irrigation.




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Last Modified: 4/5/2012
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