Advancing biocrop alternatives in the Pacific Northwest

Feb 03, 2011

Pacific Northwest farmers could someday be filling up their machinery's tanks with fuels produced from their own fields, according to ongoing research by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists.

Since 2003, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) microbiologist Hal Collins and agronomist Rick Boydston have been studying safflower, camelina, soybeans, mustard, canola, wheat, corn and switchgrass to assess their potential for bioenergy production. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of developing new sources of bioenergy.

Collins and Boydston both work at the ARS Vegetable and Forage Crops Research Laboratory in Prosser, Wash., where they've found that the oilseed crops in their studies could someday help supply Washington State with . For instance, they've found that canola, which is already established as a summer crop in the Pacific Northwest, can also be grown in the winter both as a and potentially as a biofeedstock crop, because its seeds are around 40 percent oil.

Their results also suggest that it could take anywhere from 50 to 70 acres for a farmer with 1,000 acres and an onsite crusher and biodiesel facility to grow enough canola to produce the fuel needed to run on-farm operations.

The team also found that in field trials, camelina plants produced an average of 2,000 pounds of seeds per acre in 80 days, which translates into 700 pounds of oil—and eventually 93 gallons of oil—per acre. Safflower plants, meanwhile, produced around 3,000 to 3,500 pounds of seeds per acre, and white mustard seed meal could also be used as an organic fertilizer after the were crushed to extract the oil for fuel.

Collins and Boydston also evaluated eleven cultivars in their studies and found "Kanlow" to be the most promising cultivar for maximum production under sustainable irrigation strategies in the Pacific Northwest's Columbia Basin. Four years after the team planted the first crop, they measured yields of 14 dry tons per acre, which could translate into around 1,000 gallons of cellulosic ethanol per acre.

Explore further: Vermicompost leachate improves tomato seedling growth

Provided by United States Department of Agriculture

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Benefits of planting winter canola examined

Oct 12, 2010

Winter canola might soon be the crop of choice for Pacific Northwest farmers, thanks to research by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their partners. The multitasking annual plant can be used to control ...

In Organic Cover Crops, More Seeds Means Fewer Weeds

Jan 26, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Farmers cultivating organic produce often use winter cover crops to add soil organic matter, improve nutrient cycling and suppress weeds. Now these producers can optimize cover crop use by ...

ARS researching camelina as a new biofuel crop

Apr 14, 2010

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have long-term studies under way to examine growing camelina as a bioenergy crop for producing jet fuel for the military and the aviation industry. This research supports the ...

Summer fallow stores water in central great plains

Jan 12, 2011

Storing just one inch of water in an acre of soil is worth $25 to $30 per acre. That gets the attention of Central Great Plains farmers served by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers.

Recommended for you

Vermicompost leachate improves tomato seedling growth

1 hour ago

Worldwide, drought conditions, extreme temperatures, and high soil saline content all have negative effects on tomato crops. These natural processes reduce soil nutrient content and lifespan, result in reduced plant growth ...

Plant immunity comes at a price

3 hours ago

Plants are under permanent attack by a multitude of pathogens. To win the battle against fungi, bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, they have developed a complex and effective immune system. And just as ...

Evolution: The genetic connivances of digits and genitals

21 hours ago

During the development of mammals, the growth and organization of digits are orchestrated by Hox genes, which are activated very early in precise regions of the embryo. These "architect genes" are themselves regulated by ...

Surrogate sushi: Japan biotech for bluefin tuna

Nov 20, 2014

Of all the overfished fish in the seas, luscious, fatty bluefin tuna are among the most threatened. Marine scientist Goro Yamazaki, who is known in this seaside community as "Young Mr. Fish," is working to ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.