Submitted to: Pacific Northwest Sustainable Agriculture Newsletter
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/13/2006
Publication Date: 10/13/2006
Citation: Collins H.P., Boydston, R.A., Fransen, S., Hang A.N. 2006. Biofuel Feedstocks in Washington. In Sustaining the Pacific Northwest - Food, Farm, & Natural Resource Systems, Newsletter, CSNAR, Washington State University Extension. Vol 4,3:1-4.
Technical Abstract: As petroleum prices rose and public support for alternative fuels broadened in early 2005, the production of bioenergy crops attracted ever-increasing attention in the political, environmental, and commercial arenas across the country. Over the past two years, twelve biodiesel and ethanol facilities have been proposed for the Columbia Basin of Washington and Oregon, with annual production capacities of 30 million gallons biodiesel and 290 million gallons of ethanol. Since 2003, the Integrated Cropping Systems group (comprised of WSU and USDA-ARS personnel) at Prosser, Washington, have been evaluating production potentials for a number of biofuel crops: oilseeds (safflower, soybeans, mustard, canola/rapeseed) for biodiesel production in high value irrigated vegetable rotations. These unique trials are the first of their kind within Washington State and could provide essential early information on production potentials as the bioenergy industry develops in the Pacific Northwest. Canola, rapeseed, and mustard fit well into both dryland and irrigated crop rotations and will likely be the principal feedstock of the PNW. Spring-planted canola and rapeseed yields range from 1500 to 2000 lbs per acre under irrigation. Yields of fall-planted canola/rapeseed are normally double that of the spring-sown cultivars. Mustards tolerate drought better than canola or rapeseed, but yields only 25% to 30% oil, compared to 40 to 45% for canola and rapeseed. Mustards can be produced on marginal soils, but responds well to fertilization and water applications. Safflower can tolerate extreme weather conditions. It is considered as low input and drought tolerant crop, but it responds well to irrigation and fertilizer. Planted in early spring, it reaches maturity in about five months in Washington, yielding 3000 to 3500 lbs of seed with oil concentrations of 42 to 48%. Soybean grows very well in the PNW under irrigation with yields ranging from 3500 to 4000 pounds per acre. Soybean posses a lower oil concentration (15-20%) than canola or rapeseed, but its high protein meal provides a high quality livestock feed. Data indicates that to support a 5 million gallon biodiesel facility the land area required ranges from 30 to 60,000 acres depending on the oilseed crop grown. These data have been used by the business sector, growers and state legislatures for developing economically sound, small and large-scale production.