The outcomes of a 24-month project to investigate production of alternative oilseed crops to make high-value biodiesel products are reviewed. The on-station winter oilseed agronomy research component of the project was very successful, exceeding goals to provide variety trial information on winter canola cultivars for Illinois conditions. Significantly fewer on-farm trials were performed than planned due to logistical problems and institutional transitions. The planned canola biodiesel production pilot was not possible due to the closure of the biodiesel facility cooperator in the project. A very successful on-farm field day was held, and four separate farmer-led and university-led research and commercialization projects at one farm and two universities were created or greatly accelerated due to this project. Agronomically, the research results confirm that it is possible to raise winter canola in the central latitudes of Illinois, but that further research on the genetic and management bases of winter survival would pay dividends.
The work plan proposed for this project was the result of a confluence of four key trends in the agricultural sector:
(1) Biofuels, including biodiesel, are playing a large and rapidly increasing role as end-uses for agricultural products and as drivers of rural land use decisions. This trend presents clear challenges and opportunities for farmers and rural communities.
(2) Major agricultural sustainability issues continue to exist in the NCR, and are interacting with and being amplified by shifts in farming practices associated with biofuel production. Especially in the face of elevated commodity prices, proponents of more sustainable cropping systems will need to find leverage points to influence the situation.
(3) The biodiesel sector is experiencing a stage in its expansion where fuel quality is coming under close scrutiny. End-users are seeking reassurance that commodity biodiesel will meet minimum performance standards, while opportunities to increase profitability by introducing high-quality, differentiated fuel products may also be at hand.
(4) New oilseed crop options are entering the stage. Research at regional institutions has demonstrated that winter canola can achieve dramatic seed and oil yields in the Midwest, while oil from canola and related oilseeds offers distinctive functional characteristics as a biodiesel feedstock. These crops may also provide important potential agroecosystem services if added to corn-soybean rotations. If the emerging biodiesel industry’s requirements for fuel quality and high feedstock volume can be matched to crops that also provide important sustainability benefits, a unique opportunity for crop diversification may be at hand. And if developed in a conscientious, integrated manner, biodiesel production with diversified feedstocks could play an important role in the effort to simultaneously improve economic, ecological, and social aspects of sustainability in the NCR.
In the short term, participants and others will gain knowledge necessary to evaluate and implement alternative biodiesel feedstock strategies. Farmers and processors will strengthen relationships necessary to collaborate and engage in joint ventures.
In the intermediate term, stakeholders will use new knowledge and relationships to build field-to-fuel tank business relationships and realize increased profitability and equity. Participating farmers will use lessons learned to mentor other farmers interested in alternative oilseed production. Across the region, farmers, processors, and researchers will apply increased capabilities for collaborative inquiry and action to address multiple sustainability issues. Recent confluence of concerns over biodiesel fuel quality and the sustainability of biofuel production will make the project’s outputs particularly timely.
In the long term, diversified cropping and biofuel production systems will contribute to ecological sustainability and community well-being across the North Central Region (NCR).
This project will bring together farmers, university researchers, public sector sustainable development workers, biodiesel industry personnel, and the general public in an effort to crop production, oilseed processing and logistics, biofuel conversion, and interactions in the supply chain in a coordinated manner. Direct participants are spread across two states in the NCR, and outreach and collaborative interactions are expected to reach all states bordering on Illinois. The project will include On-Farm Oilseed Research and On-Station Oilseed Research components, in which a variety of winter brassica crops will be evaluated for agronomic and biodiesel characteristics in on-station and on-farm settings. It will also include a Canola Biodiesel Production Pilot component where field-scale canola seed production and conversion to biodiesel in a commercial facility will be demonstrated. A conceptual map of the project (Figure 1) demonstrates how six on-farm trial sites (pictures of oilseed plots; only four of six depicted), two winter canola production sites (pictures of canola production), a biodiesel plant (oil droplet logo), and an agricultural energy business (red and black company logo) clustered around a university research station (Western Illinois University logo) would comprise the project.
- On-farm trials will occur on six cooperating farms each of the project years.
The trials will evaluate winter oilseeds, such as winter canola, cold-hardy mustard and rapeseed cultivars, camelina, and field pennycress.
Production observations and notes will be taken and yields will be determined.
Oilseed, oil, and biodiesel compositional and quality analyses will be performed at Western Illinois University (WIU) and a cooperating biodiesel plant.
One on-farm field day will be held each year.
- On-station evaluations of winter oilseeds will occur at WIU for two years.
Crops evaluated will include winter canola (10 cultivars), winter rapeseed and mustard (2-4 cultivars), camelina (1-2 cultivars), and field pennycress (1 population).
Production observations and notes will be taken and yields will be determined.
Oilseed, oil, and biodiesel compositional and quality analyses will be performed at WIU and a cooperating biodiesel plant.
One on-station field day will be held each year.
- Cooperating farmers will grow and harvest 80 a. of winter canola.
Canola seed will be crushed and the oil degummed at a toll crushing facility, and the oil delivered to a cooperating biodiesel plant in Keokuk, IA.
Biodiesel plant staff will convert the canola oil to biodiesel, conduct quality analyses, and document production costs.
One public event will be held at the biodiesel plant in the second year of the project.
Trials were established on cooperating farms in Jerseyville, IL and Augusta, IL in the 2008-’09 and 2009-’10 growing seasons, respectively.
An on-farm winter canola variety trial was conducted in 2008-‘09 at the Tony and Regan Joehl farm in Godfrey, IL, incorporating two hybrid cultivars (‘Flash’ and ‘Hornet’) and two open-pollinated (OP) cultivars (‘Wichita’ and ‘Sumner’). The four cultivars were selected from among the entries in the National Winter Canola Variety Trial (NWCVT). The plots were no-till drilled October 3, 2008 at 7 lb a-1 in 15 in. rows in 0.65 a plots (Figure 2). Seed for Flash and Hornet was only available treated with Prosper FX insecticidal and fungicidal seed treatment (clothianidin + trifloxystrobin + carboxin + metalaxyl), while seed for Sumner was only available untreated. Wichita was planted both treated and untreated as noted below. Fertility was 100 lb a-1 N, 70 lb a-1 P2O5, 90 lb a-1 K2O, and (except where noted below) 10 lb a-1 S, in the form of UAN 28%, DAP, KCl, and elemental S, respectively. The S was a granular product mixed with the seed primarily to facilitate accurate delivery of a low seeding rate. The farmer elected to use the plant unreplicated plots and add additional experimental treatments for comparison within one cultivar, Wichita: untreated seed; seed treated with Prosper FX; seed treated with Prosper FX and S fertilizer omitted. The cooperator conducted stand counts in the fall and spring to determine stand and winterkill. Despite relatively heavy winterkill, the plots were successfully harvested in summer 2009 to obtain yield data.
An on-farm trial comparing one hybrid winter canola cultivar (‘Flash’) and one OP cultivar (‘Wichita’) was planted at Holst Farms near Augusta, IL in early September, 2009. Cultivars were once again picked from among entries in the NWCVT. The preceding crop was winter wheat, and 10,000 gal a-1 of liquid swine manure was applied and incorporated in early July, 2009. No analysis of the manure was available from the farmer; based on an assumed analysis of 50-50-25 per 1,000 gal., this may have resulted in an application rate of 500 lb a-1 N, 500 lb a-1 P2O5, and 250 lb a-1 K2O. The two cultivars were planted on June 30, 2009 using the small-seed box on a drill. The experiment was a four-replication RCBD with plots 15 ft. wide and varying from 230 to 436 ft. in length (Figure 3). To fill the remainder of the field, the cooperator also planted a varietal blend of multiple Dekalb-brand winter canola cultivars in a 0.7 a space. Plots were harvested on June 30, 2010 using a conventional combine and platform head. Agreed upon harvest protocol was to obtain a separate harvest weight for each plot using a weigh wagon, but equipment failures and time constraints resulted in the cooperator deciding to bulk the four replications of each cultivar together.
The subsections below summarize on-station oilseed research performed.
Two on-station oilseed experiments were established at the WIU Agricultural Field Laboratory in Macomb, IL in Fall 2008.
A full location of the 2008-’09 NWCVT was established at the WIU Agricultural Field Laboratory at Macomb, IL, comprising 54 winter canola cultivars and experimental lines. A separate experiment was also established to compare a winter canola check to cultivars of winter camelina, winter rapeseed, field pennycress, and putatively-winter hardy safflower lines. Systematic emergence, stand, and crop development notes were taken, and crop establishment was very satisfactory. Unfortunately 2008-’09 winter conditions in western Illinois were particularly harsh, with repeated mid-winter episodes of extremely low temperatures combined with no snow cover, followed by a greater than average number of freeze-thaw cycles in late winter. Winterkill was 90-100% across all oilseed species and cultivars, effectively ending both experiments.
A large-scale, replicated, randomized preliminary experiment was established at the WIU Agricultural Field Laboratory (AFL) in Macomb, Illinois, for the 2008-2009 growing season. The treatments were winter fallow followed by corn, winter fallow followed by soybean, winter triticale followed by corn, winter triticale followed by soybean, field pennycress followed by corn, and field pennycress followed by soybean. Although the winter crops were successfully established in the fall, severe winter weather conditions resulted in 100 percent winter kill, necessitating the abandonment of the experiment.
For the 2009-’10 growing season, collaboration was established with Dr. Vince Davis of University of Illinois Extension. Full locations of the 2009-’10 NWCVT were established at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) South Farms in Urbana, IL and at the UIUC Northwest Research Center (NWRC) in Monmouth, IL. Entries comprised public and private hybrid and open-pollinated cultivars, as well as breeding lines from several institutions; 42 entries were planted at Monmouth and 36 at Urbana. At each location the experimental design was a three-replication RCBD, with plots measuring 3.75 ft. by 20 ft. Plots were planted with a small plot drill at 5 lb a-1 seeding rate in 7.5 in. rows on September 10, 2009 in Urbana and September 11, 2009 in Monmouth. The preceding crop was wheat. Soil tests confirmed P and K adequacy, and 30 lb N a-1 was applied in each location prior to planting and an additional 80 lb N a-1 was topdressed onto the plots at Urbana and Monmouth on March 19, 2010 and March 24, 2010 respectively. Select Max (clethodim 12.6%) was applied at 12 fl. oz. a-1 at Urbana and Monmouth on March 22 and March 23, 2010 respectively to control volunteer wheat. Plots were maintained weed-free by hand weeding through the season. No significant insect or disease issues were observed. Field observations for fall stand rating, winter survival, 50% bloom and physiologically maturity dates, plant height, lodging, and shattering were made at appropriate times in the season. Plots were harvested in Urbana and Monmouth on June 28 and June 29, 2010 respectively, using a small plot combine and platform head. Moisture and test weight were determined using standard methods.
A second experiment was established simultaneously at Monmouth and Urbana with support from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity that evaluated the winter oilseeds winter canola and field pennycress in a double cropping systems experiment that also included winter cereals and a summer crop component pairing each winter crop with corn or soybean. Only the oilseed portions will be described in this report. The two oilseed entries were ‘Hornet’ hybrid winter canola and an Illinois-derived field pennycress population obtained from the USDA-ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research. At each location the experimental design was a four-replication RCBD, with plots measuring 18 ft. by 40 ft. Plots were planted with a small plot drill at 5 lb a-1 seeding rate in 7.5 in. rows on September 11 in Monmouth and September 14, 2009 in Urbana, respectively. The preceding crop was wheat. Soil tests confirmed P and K adequacy, and 30 lb N a-1 was applied to canola and pennycress in each location prior to planting and an additional 70 lb N a-1 was topdressed onto the canola plots at Urbana and Monmouth on March 19 and March 23, 2010 respectively. Per preliminary field pennycress production guidelines in Illinois, no additional N was applied to pennycress plots. Select Max (clethodim 12.6%) was applied at 12 fl. oz. a-1 at Urbana and Monmouth on March 11 and March 23, 2010 respectively to control volunteer wheat. Plots were maintained weed-free by hand weeding through the season. No significant insect or disease issues were observed.
Plots were harvested using a small plot combine and platform head; harvest date for each crop was determined by observation of field conditions in light of established management guidelines for harvest timing. At Urbana, pennycress and canola were harvested on May 28 and June 25 respectively. At Monmouth, pennycress and canola were harvested on June 22 and Jun 29, respectively.
To avoid biasing results, two of the three Wichita plots were excluded when calculating means; Plot 6 (Prosper FX treated) was included. Plots were successfully established in fall 2008, with plant populations ranging from 201,000 to 399,000 plants a-1 and averaging over 316,000 a-1 across all plots, falling above the 175,000 a-1 minimum population for optimal yield sometimes referred to in extension literature. Spring populations (Figure 4) ranged from 74,000 to 267,000 plants a-1, with a mean of 175,000 plants a-1. Flash was particularly severely affected, suffering 77% winterkill. Crop development proceeded normally through the 2009 season, with full bloom achieved in early May (Figure 5).
The trial plots established well and little winterkill was observed in 2010. Despite an unusually wet spring crop development proceeded rapidly, with full bloom occurring by mid-April (Figure 6) and physiological maturity by early to mid-June (Figure 7). The hybrid cultivar Flash reached physiological maturity nearly two weeks later than the open-pollinated cultivar Wichita, consistent with anecdotal information about current hybrid cultivars in the North Central region. No major weed, insect, or disease issues were experienced, and despite the large application of manure before planting in 2009, no unusual vegetative growth was observed. Shattering during the June 30, 2010 harvest was not estimated quantitatively, but was reported by the cooperator to be noticeably higher for Wichita than for Flash. The cooperator obtained a single yield for each cultivar, bulking the four randomized, interspersed plots for each before determining a weight. Flash and Wichita yielded 3,035 and 1,466 lb a-1 respectively, while the single large plot of a Dekalb varietal blend yielded 1,336 lb a-1. In the Holst Farms trial, Flash yielded higher than in either of the NWCVT locations conducted for this project, while Wichita at Holst Farms was intermediate between the yields obtained at the NWCVT Monmouth and Urbana locations (Table 4).
Recruiting farmer cooperators was a major challenge. Both cooperators who had agreed to participate in the project during the application phase had withdrawn by the start of the project due to personal conflicts, and the start date of September 1, 2008 fell just weeks before the start of the winter canola planting window for the 2008-’09 growing season. Several cooperator recruitment activities were initiated immediately. An event was held on September 3, 2008 in Peoria, IL in collaboration with a biodiesel company that reached approximately 20 farmers who had self-identified as interested in alternative oilseeds. A series of contacts was initiated with a farmer group centered in Jersey County, IL that reached approximately 10 farmers interested in value-added agriculture and alternative crops. The informational sheet used to recruit cooperators is attached as Appendix A. Individual phone calls reached a further six to 10 farmers. While approximately six farmers indicated enough interest to participate in follow-up conversations, only one farmer was able to commit quickly enough to the project to plant a 2008-’09 on-farm trial. Project staffing issues prevented aggressive cooperator recruitment for the 2009-’10 growing season, and as a result only one cooperator was secured.
The subsections below summarize on-station winter oilseed research performed.
For the crop establishment phase of 2008-’09 growing season, project operational goals were met and greatly exceeded. A full location of the 2008-’09 NWCVT was established at the WIU Agricultural Field Laboratory at Macomb, IL, comprising 54 winter canola cultivars and experimental lines. A separate experiment was also established to compare a winter canola check to cultivars of field pennycress (Figure 8), winter camelina (Figure 9), winter rapeseed, and putatively-winter hardy safflower lines. Systematic emergence, stand, and crop development notes were taken, and crop establishment was very satisfactory. Unfortunately 2008-’09 winter conditions in western Illinois were particularly harsh, with repeated mid-winter episodes of extremely low temperatures combined with no snow cover, followed by a greater than average number of freeze-thaw cycles in late winter. Winterkill was 90-100% across all oilseed species and cultivars, effectively ending both experiments.
Plots generally established well at both Monmouth and Urbana in Fall 2009, although Urbana fall standing ratings averaged 6.2/10, below the 8.8/10 observed at Monmouth. However winter survival appeared better at Monmouth than at Urbana, with 97% and 74% survival observed. Average dates of 50% bloom and of maturity were similar in each location, falling on approximately April 23 and June 17 respectively. Lodging and shattering problems were relatively minimal. Among all entries, overall location mean yields were 1,379 and 2,001 lb a-1 at Monmouth and Urbana respectively, with a range of 985 to 1,711 lb a-1 at Monmouth and 1,318 to 2,163 lb a-1 at Urbana. Results for all entries are included as Appendix B. Among released cultivars only, the mean at Monmouth was 1,381 lb a-1 and the mean at Urbana was 2,236 lb a-1. At Monmouth hybrid released cultivars yielded 1,349 lb a-1 while open-pollinated (OP) cultivars yielded 1,409 lb a-1. At Urbana hybrid released cultivars yielded 2,180 lb a-1 and OP cultivars yielded 1,826 lb a-1. Yield results for all released cultivars are presented in Table 5. In the separate winter oilseed study at Monmouth, Hornet winter canola yielded 2,328 lb a-1 while field pennycress yielded 348 lb a-1. Field pennycress performance was better at Urbana, where Hornet canola yielded 3,660 lb a-1 and pennycress yielded 1,359 a-1.
The project goals under this category were not met. Due to the late start date of the performance period for the grant and difficulties in rapidly recruiting cooperators, the original plan to conduct half of the planned 160 a. of winter canola production in the 2008-’09 growing season was revised, and plans were made to grow all 160 a. in the 2009-’10 season. A series of meetings was held with the cooperating biodiesel company throughout late 2008 and early 2009 to prepare for a pilot-scale production run and an outreach event in 2010. However, in mid-2009 the company announced it was ceasing operations and undergoing bankruptcy and liquidation. Since no other biodiesel plant of appropriate scale, configuration, and stage of project development was available in the region, the canola biodiesel production pilot could not be carried out.
- Figure 4: Joehl winter canola on April 1, 2009.
- Figure 5: Joehl winter canola on May 14, 2009.
- Figure 6: Holst canola on April 22, 2010.
- Figure 7: Holst canola on June 18, 2010.
- Appendix A: Cooperator recruitment handout.
- Figure 8 Inset: Field pennycress at WIU on March 23, 2009 (inset).
- Figure 10: Winter canola at Urbana on May 24, 2010.
- Figure 11: Field pennycress at Urbana on May 24, 2010.
- Appendix B: Winter canola variety trial results.
- Figure 8: Field pennycress at WIU on March 23, 2009.
- Figure 9: Camelina at WIU, March 23, 2009.
Although it was possible to execute only a portion of the work scope of this grant and spend only a portion of the budget, a significant impact was made. One of the farmer cooperators in the grant, Holst Farms, has continued on their own initiative to conduct on-farm research and pilot production of winter canola, in consideration of adding it to their system on a production basis. This would expand the acreage on their farm in winter crops by dozens to hundreds of acres, achieving many of the same soil quality benefits that adopting cover crops would. The project field day also accelerated the development of a network in Hancock County, IL for potential expansion of the Holsts’ activities into a winter canola biofuel farmer cooperative. The field day was also an opportunity to expose state legislators to opportunities in alternative crops and diversified cropping systems, and directly connect those concepts to the bioenergy economic. As another outcome of the project, University of Illinois Extension Soybean Agronomist Vince Davis is making plans to continue the winter canola variety testing initiated under this project, and add winter oilseeds to his research plans for winter crops. The research also contributed to a developing field pennycress biodiesel supply chain around Biofuels Manufacturers of Illinois, LLC, a startup company in Peoria; it was the first experiment in the state to include both winter canola and field pennycress, with the better-characterized winter canola providing a valuable benchmark for efforts to find economically optimal management practices for pennycress. Both in the on-farm and on-station trials, the results confirmed the critical need for further research on genetic and management influences on winter canola winter hardiness in Illinois.
A hypothetical production budget for winter canola is presented in Table 6. Separate scenarios are supplied for OP and hybrid winter canola cultivars, and a winter wheat scenario is presented as a check. Winter canola yields are the across-locations means of the Monmouth and Urbana data presented in Table 5. The winter wheat yield used is the mean of the location mean yields for the 2010 University of Illinois winter wheat variety trials at Urbana, IL and Perry, IL. The winter canola price is equal to the December 20, 2010 closing price of March 2011 ICE canola contracts, and the winter wheat price is equal to the December 20, 2010 closing price of March 2011 CME winter wheat contracts. Winter canola seed costs are based on costs observed in Illinois for the 2008-09 growing season. All other costs are based on extension literature from the North Central region.
Using a canola price of $0.25 lb-1, 1,617 lb a-1 OP canola grosses $404 a-1 while 1,765 lb a-1 hybrid canola grosses $441 a-1. Winter wheat at $7.69 bu-1 and 84 bu a-1 grosses $646 a-1. OP and hybrid canola seed costs are valued at $8 a-1 and $50 a-1, respectively, and all other costs are held constant. At the market and seed prices specified, a farmer’s breakeven threshold for choosing a hybrid winter canola cultivar over an OP cultivar is a 170 lb a-1. Field results from 2009-10 demonstrated only a 148 lb a-1 yield advantage for hybrid canola, and accordingly net return to land and management for hybrid canola was $133 a-1, $5 lower than the $138 a-1 estimated for OP canola. Net return to land and management for winter wheat was calculated to be $325, over twice as much as the most profitable canola system. Hybrid canola yields of approximately 2,600 lb a-1 would be required to close the revenue gap with winter wheat. Some promise exists for the latter scenario, as the top hybrid cultivars in the longstanding Southern Illinois University Carbondale variety trial at Belleville, IL regularly exceed that yield. However, it will be critical to gain more information about the genetic and management drivers of winter canola winter survival in Illinois, particularly north of 37° 50’ N latitude.
As discussed in the Impacts section, Holst Farms has continued conducting on-farm research on winter canola production and is considering adding winter canola to their system, and potentially scaling up their on-farm oilseed crushing enterprise to a farmer cooperative. Information on performance of hybrid versus open-pollinated canola was particularly valuable to Joehl Farms, who had been considering adopting canola for some time and were increasingly exposed to seed sources and seed marketing for higher priced hybrid varieties. The Joehls are closely involved in a regional farmer group of several dozen farmers in their part of west-central Illinois, exposing that group to the potential for diversifying crop rotations and adding winter crops.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs and Holst Farms conducted a field day (Figures 12 to 19) to showcase the Holst SARE canola on-farm trial at Holst Farms, Augusta, IL on July 30, 2010. The field day was also sponsored by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and included additional topics including sunflower production, on-farm oil extraction, use of straight vegetable oil in diesel engines and as a heating fuel, utilization of oilseed presscake in beef finishing, and hydroponic tomato production and direct marketing. The field day was publicized with a Western Illinois University press release sent to local and regional general media, regional agricultural media, local and regional Extension offices in Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri, and local state and Federal legislators. Fliers were also posted in local agricultural businesses. Lunch at the half-day event was sponsored by Mycogen Seeds. Well over 100 people were in attendance.
University of Illinois Extension held field days at both the Northwest Research Center site near Monmouth and the South Farms site in Urbana. Aside from the field days and planning and recruitment meetings discussed above, two formal meeting presentations were given on the project during 2008. Reports on project field operations to date and on overall project goals and plans were given at the annual research meeting of the Illinois Council Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR) in November 2008, and at the annual meeting of the Midwest Regional Canola Research Program in December 2008. Project results from the canola variety trial will be reported in a National Winter Canola Variety Trial bulletin published by Kansas State University, currently in press. Project results from the double cropping study, including the winter canola and field pennycress data, will be reported in a presentation at the American Society of Agronomy annual meetings in 2011 and in a journal article in Agronomy Journal or Crop Science.
- Figure 12: Research poster at Holst Field Day. 2009-’10 canola trial is reported at right; 2010-’11 plans reported at center and left.
- Figure 14: Illinois State Senator John Sullivan (D-47) comments on biofuel policy, with Luke and Mark Holst in the background.
- Figure 15: Field day attendees watch the Holst Farms oilseed press in action.
- Figure 16: Illinois State Representative Rich Myers (R-94) gestures toward a setline tank as he discusses the Holsts’ oil cleaning process with another attendee.
- Figure 17: Luke Holst explains the oilseed crushing process.
- Figure 13: Holst Farms presents a production budget for on-farm utilization of straight vegetable oil from sunflowers and winter canola.
Areas needing additional study
Research projects in alternative crops, new processing activities, new supply chains, and new markets are sometimes subject to similar risk factors to those faced by farmers: crop production risk profiles that are not yet well characterized in the target climate and region, successful coordination with new service providers or collaborators, and the risk of failure of other components of the value chain (e.g. the loss of a biodiesel plant.)
This project was challenged by a series of losses or transfers of key personnel and participants, including university staff, farmer cooperators, and industry partners. As in production agriculture, flexibility is important.
Several new, expanded, or accelerated activities may stem from this project:
- Holst Farms is continuing on-farm winter canola experimentation for the 2010-’11 season (Figure 20).
Holst Farms and IIRA are investigating expansion of small-scale oilseed processing and biofuel utilization to a cooperative scale.
Holst Farms and the WIU Organic Research Program have begun collaborating on low-input double crop sunflower production.
Formation of a small on-farm biodiesel working group is being discussed among IIRA and several farmers in western Illinois.
University of Illinois collaborators will continue to perform winter canola variety trials, and add winter oilseeds to double crop and cover crop experiments.