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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Accelerated Development of Commercial Hydrotreated Renewable Jet Fuel from Redesigned Oil Seed Feedstock Supply Chains

Location: Soil and Water Conservation Research

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Determine how environmental variation influences oil seed performance across and between farm fields in different growing regions. Integrate new in-line optical sensing into harvesting and crushing to enhance feedstock quality and stage feedstock supply quality with conversion scheduling.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
A plot combine equipped with a grain gage and harvesting data system will be used to measure oilseed yields in fields in Oregon, Washington, Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota. A ruggedized instrument will be installed in the combine’s threshing system to estimate oil content of harvested seed. Yield and oil content will be measured in small distance intervals while driving the combine on a linear transect in a given field. Satellite imagery will be acquired of the field sites before flowering and correlated with ground data to provide spatially distributed inputs for crop modeling. Remote sensing and a combination of remote sensing and crop simulation modeling will be used to forecast crop yield and seed oil content at the regional scale. A set of measurements will be acquired by conducting a series of small plot experiments in Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, and Oregon. Phenotyping characters (e.g., crop height, leaf area index, plant canopy reflectance, and canopy temperature) indicating a genotype’s ability to respond successfully to drought stress will be measured once per week using hand-held instruments. This information will be used to improve the calibration/validation of the ALMANAC model simulations of canola. In a crushing plant, a calibrated spectrometer will be mounted on the inlet of the expeller to monitor the seed oil concentration. Grain samples will be manually taken for laboratory analysis and validation of the spectrometer’s prediction model. In-line oil seed information will be used together with mass flow measurements of seed and oil to compute extraction efficiency and control the expeller.

3. Progress Report:
This subordinate project contributes to objective 2A of the parent project: Determine productivity and profitability of integrating alternative forage and biofuel crops into wheat-based production systems. Several hundred oilseed samples were obtained from six farm fields in Washington and Oregon, with laboratory analytical results confirming the existence of spatial variability in seed oil concentration. Experiments were initiated to determine whether adjusting the choke setting of a cold press for variation in seed oil concentration can improve extraction efficiency. Landsat satellite image data were acquired for several locations in Oregon and Washington in which image acquisition dates were chosen to correspond to the presence of flowers in the plant canopy. Custom image transformations were derived and applied to archival imagery for years 2010, 2012, and 2013. Accuracy assessments were conducted using National Agricultural Statistics data and geographic coordinates of known canola fields. Efforts were initiated to create a web-based decision support tool that land managers can use to assess current oilseed production across a region. Selected spectral indices were computed from leaf spectra simulated by the Prospect-SAIL crop canopy model. This information was used to test the ability of a novel vegetation index that was developed to quantify the leaf nitrogen status of canola before and after the appearance of yellow flowers. A small-plot experiment with both spring and winter oilseed crops was established in 2013 to identify oilseeds well suited to unique semiarid conditions of eastern Oregon and Washington.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 05/24/2017
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