Oilseed Farm-to-Market Demonstration objectives were to increase awareness of the benefits of oilseed crops within a rotation (agronomics); and to increase general information on the value-added opportunities in oilseed crops (economics).
After researching various oil seed expellers (crushers) the KOMET Oil Seed Expeller from Germany was chosen due to its durability, reliability and cost, arriving June 30, 2006. The crusher was received as a three-phase 480v, which was converted by using an inverter to single-phase 240v to accommodate farm shops. A trailer was purchased and crusher frame built with additional fabrication including an on-trailer seed bin, auger, and seed oil drain pan.
The initial participants meeting was used to review the project’s objectives; set up time lines for soil sampling and crushing; determine acres and oilseed variety; questions and answers; discuss the space needs of the crusher and process; and marketing of the by-products. Five producers with experience growing oilseed crops in a direct seed system were selected using their farms as demonstration sites: Tom Conrad, 21” rainfall zone; Del and Steve Teade, 19” rainfall zone; Mike Stubbs, 15” rainfall zone; Ron Kile, 17” rainfall zone; and Mike Goyke, 19” rainfall zone.
Soil sampling was completed both in the spring and fall to monitor moisture usage since canola and mustard use high amounts of moisture; and the nitrogen levels of the crop ground were tracked throughout the farm rotation. Organic matter measured an increase of less than 1% between the first year and final year.
In the first year the crusher was housed at two locations, Mark Halls and Rhod McIntoshs, with crushing at Rhod’s shop for the remainder of the project years. The seed was not cleaned other than regular combine adjustments made during harvest for the crop. The crusher was set-up on a 12-hour rotation for filling the seed bin from the field truck, and changing the meal bag and barrels of oil with the crusher running continuously. Minor obstacles encountered included typical inconveniences from winter temperatures and road closures to technical issues such as photocell adjustments and challenges with heater rings. Following is a summary of each producer’s experience.
The Tom Conrad Farm is located south of Colfax in the Onecho area (S10/11, T15N, R43E), the dominate soil is a Palouse Silt Loam. Cropping is a three-year rotation of canola (Roundup Ready 357), winter wheat, and spring barley in an annual rainfall zone of 21”. His tillage operation is a two-pass system using a 5500 CIH double-disc minimum till drill for seeding and a 5850 CIH chisel with ¾” shank at 12” spacing for fertilizing. He averages 400 acres of canola annually with a seeding rate of 3-4 pounds, averaging a yield of 1,766 pounds per acre. Overall, Tom reported that he uses less pesticide with the canola being in the rotation but that volunteer canola can be a problem in the winter wheat crop that follows.
The first year resulted in 13,435 pounds of canola seed being crushed, resulting in 23 days of crushing. This produced 4 tons of meal and 520 gallons of oil. There were two full days that the crusher was down due to the material. The oil was sold locally to individual producers at $2.65 per gallon and the meal at $150 per ton resulting in a combined average of $0.1575 cents per pound. In 2006, the contract seed market price averaged $0.15 cents per pound, up from the contract price of $0.10 cents per pound in 2005.
The second year resulted in 13,985 pounds of canola seed being crushed, resulting in 20 days of crushing. This produced 4.5 tons of meal and 530 gallons of oil. During Tom’s use, the crusher was serviced with a new sensor and had three ‘jams’ due to the amount of ‘trash’ that shut the machine down for three days. The crusher was run at a slower speed half the time in an attempt to discourage bridging. The oil was sold to Natural Selection, an operation that is making biofuel for the individual farm, at a price of $0.38 cents per pound; the meal was sold to Rhod McIntosh as a livestock feed additive (protein supplement) at a price of $200 per ton for a combined average of $0.16 cents per pound. In 2007, the contract seed market price increased to an average of $0.18 cents per pound.
Tom was the only participant to crush in the third and final year. The third year resulted in 13,630 pounds of canola seed being crushed, resulting in 16 days of crushing. This produced 4.7 tons of meal and 525 gallons of oil. The process went rather well with only one partial day of shut down because of the auger jamming with too much chaff. The oil was sold to Steve Camps, a local producer, for a price of $0.31 cents per pound with the meal being sold at $225 per ton again to Rhod McIntosh for a combined average of $0.165 cents per pound. In 2008, the contract seed market price increased to an average of $0.25 cents per pound.
The Del and Steve Teade Farm is located west of Colfax in the Wilcox area (S35/36, T16N, R42E), the dominate soils are Palouse Thatuna and Snow Silt Loam. Cropping is a two-year rotation of an oilseed (canola-hoya 37 or yellow mustard), and winter wheat in an annual rainfall zone of 19”. Their tillage operation is a one-pass system using a AgPro no-till drill for seeding and fertilizing with coulter and shank at 12” spacing. They average 200 acres of an oilseed annually with a seeding rate of 6-7 pounds, averaging a yield of 1,000 pounds per acre (mustard). Overall, Del and Steve reported that there is no weed control available for mustard so there is some increase in weed population during the mustard crop. When compared to a winter wheat crop following chemical fallow, they felt the weed population was comparable. They reported that their winter wheat crops following an oilseed have been up on average 15 bushels per acre over winter wheat following a spring grain with chemical usage remaining the same.
The first year resulted in 16,000 pounds of canola seed being crushed, resulting in 25 days of crushing. This produced 5.5 tons of meal and 600 gallons of oil. The Teade’s were the first to use the crusher in a shop situation which resulted in a lengthier crush time to get the system running consistently. The oil was sold locally to individual producers; the meal was sold to Rhod McIntosh as livestock feed additive (protein supplement). The oil was sold at $2.65 per gallon and the meal at $150 per ton resulting in a combined average of $0.1575 cents per pound. In 2006, the contract seed market price averaged $0.15 cents per pound, up from the contract price of $0.10 cents per pound in 2005.
The second year, the Teade’s grew mustard and opted out of crushing due to the high contract price of $0.18 cents per pound. With no market available for the mustard meal, the oil sale would not have compared to the market price per acre.
In the third year, the Teade’s again grew mustard and opted out of crushing due to the high contract price of $0.25 cents per pound. Again, with no market for the mustard meal, the oil sale would not have compared to the market price per acre.
The Mike Stubbs Farm is located west of Colfax in the Dusty area (S12, T15N, R40E), the dominate soil is Walla Walla Silt Loam. Cropping in an annual rainfall zone of 15” is with two three-year rotation options depending on the variety of oilseed he seeds: winter canola (non-GMO), chemical fallow, and winter wheat; or oriental mustard, winter wheat, and spring wheat. His tillage operation is a one-pass system using a AgPro 2815 no-till drill for seeding and fertilizing using either a hoe opener at 15” spacing (mustard crop) or a double-disc at 30” spacing (canola crop). He averages 300-400 acres of an oilseed crop annually with seeding rates as follows: yellow mustard, 5-6 pounds per acre; oriental mustard, 4-5 pounds per acre; winter canola, 2-3.5 pounds per acre. The yields averaged between 1,100 and 1,400 pounds per acre. Overall, Mike reported that china lettuce is a big problem in the mustard crop which is equivalent to the problem in chemical fallow, but that there was no change in chemical treatment for the crop following.
Mike’s winter canola was crushed in the second year of the project. It resulted in 14,320 pounds of canola seed to be crushed which resulted in 12 days of crushing. This produced 4.8 tons of meal and 550 gallons of oil. The oil was sold to Natural Selection, an operation that is making biofuel for the individual farm, at a price of $0.38 cents per pound; the meal was sold as livestock feed to a livestock operator in the area at a price of $200 per ton for a combined average of $0.16 cents per pound. In 2007, the contract seed market price increased to an average of $0.18 cents per pound.
In the third year, Mike grew mustard and opted out of crushing due to the high contract price of $0.25 cents per pound. With no market available for the mustard meal, the oil sale would not have compared to the market price per acre.
The Ron Kile Farm is located north of Colfax in the Pine City area (S28, T20N, R42E), the dominate soil is Palouse Silt Loam. Cropping is a three-year rotation of mustard (GEM), winter wheat, spring barley rotation in an annual rainfall zone of 17”. His tillage operation is a CIH toolbar with a hoe opener at 15” spacing.
As a trial for the first year, Ron planted winter canola on crop ground that had a known chemical residual; the canola crop failed due to the chemical carry-over in the soil.
In the second year, he grew mustard on a 4-acre flat in its last year of chemical plant-back restrictions; which produced a low yielding crop with a percentage of hollow seeds. The crusher was moved on-farm to his shop with approximately 5,000 lbs of seed. Crushing was done in 9 days of in-consistent operation. The mustard was very ‘trashy’ but also contained a lot of dust which filled the oil augers causing them to ‘jam’ and shut the crusher off. It was determined after researching the situation, that it would be cost prohibitive to have the small amount of mustard seed cleaned professionally; a screen was fitted over the seed bin to act as a ‘sifter’ to assist in the removal of the ‘trash’ but did not address the dust issue. The augers, heaters, and dyes were all adjusted and changed in an attempt to remedy the dust situation. With the overnight temperatures starting to fall below freezing, the seed temperature had become an issue. Along with the attachment of heating lamps to the seed bin of the crusher, an old manual seed cleaner had been located to address the dust issue. Both activities seemed to remedy the situation until the breaker switch on the crusher began to trip-out. By adding a heat lamp over the breaker box, Ron was able to run the crusher on a 24-hour basis to finish his project. The mustard produced an estimated 1.25 ton of meal and an estimated 100 gallons of oil which was sold locally at a price of $0.35 cents per pound. There is no market available for the meal.
Ron opted out of growing an oilseed in the third year due to the chemical plant back restrictions and the high market price of cereal grains.
Mike Goyke joined the project in the second year as a replacement for Rick Morgan. His farm is located north of Colfax in the Thornton area (S32, T20N, R43E), the dominate soil is of Palouse Silt Loam. Cropping is a three-year rotation of canola (Glyphosate Resistant), winter wheat and spring barley in an annual rainfall zone of 19”. He stated that he has been working with more of a minimum tillage operation and only seeds canola if the market price is up. The crusher was moved on-farm to his shop with approximately 10,000 lbs of seed crushing resulting in 9 days of in-consistent operation. The operation did not run 24-hours due to ‘trash’ shutting the crusher off. A new situation occurred when the machine would carry the seed through without producing oil or meal. This situation happened several times after the machine shut itself down which was remedied by switching the auger size. A screen was fitted over the seed bin to act as a ‘sifter’ to assist in the removal of the ‘trash’ and worked well but added additional time and the need for two people when refilling the seed bin from the field truck. This produced an estimated 3 ton of meal and an estimated 250 gallons of oil. He did not provide market numbers.
In the third year, Mike made the decision not to grow canola due the high market price of cereal grains.
There is an additional by-product referred to as ‘sludge’ that is left in the bottom of the oil barrels from settling solids. The settling typically takes five days before the oil can be pumped into a separate container for sale. This wet, soupy meal contains the same protein and omega-3 benefits of the dry material and has been used over hay as feed supplement for livestock. At this time, no market value has been placed on the sludge. Cattle feeders had shown a lot of interest in this by-product.
Feed and Forage reports were completed on the canola meal. Four categories looked at were fat, omega 3, omega 6 and protein with the numbers from the multiple reports averaged to reveal the following: fat 16.15%, omega 3 7.07%, omega 6 19.10%, and protein 33.37%. Speed variations were experimented with but yielded no substantial change in the outcome of the testing.
The local Universities are pursuing the mustard meal as a soil amendment to be used as a natural weed and pest control treatment.
Whitman Conservation District has a successful history of seeking alternative ways for producers to create a sustainable farm through various farming systems, alternative crops and rotations, and conservation practices.
Oilseed Farm-to-Market Demonstration is a continuation of the 2003 completed District project, Oilseed Survey – What is Breakeven? which resulted in a Washington State University published paper: Cost of Producing Canola and Mustard Oilseed in Eastern Washington and North Central Idaho. The survey results were updated to reflect current rates and are available on-line at http://farm-mgmt.wsu.edu/nonirr.htm. The survey defined the market price needed for an oilseed crop to be sustainable and economical in a direct seed system.
Oilseed Farm-to-Market Demonstration expands the basic oilseed commodities market to include by-product marketability. When the oilseeds (brassicas) are included in the crop rotation, all of the crops benefit in yield potential and the soil health is improved overall. When the seed is crushed it provides four potential by-products: oil, meal, glycerol, and sludge. This project uses the direct seed system as the technique to grow oilseed crops in rotation; and evaluates with the producer the economics of by-product marketing versus the sale of seed.
There were two parts of the project: research of the agronomics of growing oilseed crops on farm; and participant education of value-added through crushing their own oilseed and marketing the by-products. The objectives included researching growing conditions within the direct seed system; researching crop benefits in the rotation; addressing pest and weed control issues; and a market analysis of the value of oilseed seed versus the value of crushed seed for oil and meal.
The original project design was a mobile crusher that would move farm-to-farm to complete the crushing process. Due to transportation and operating costs it was discovered that it was easier to move the oil in barrels than the meal in feed bags; once realized, the crusher remained at the livestock operators shop and the seed was brought to that location.
The research of growing oilseed crops was based on the experience of the participants, consulting with Washington State University and with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The on-farm sites were throughout Whitman County ranging from 15” – 21” rainfall zones and included the following soil types: Palouse Silt Loam; Palouse Thatuna; Snow Silt Loam; and Walla Walla Silt Loam. Each participant used their own farm equipment, rotation, seeding and fertilizer rates, and weed and pest control treatments. Specific information was included in producer summaries.
In 2006, the project’s oil was sold locally to individual producers at $2.65 per gallon and the meal at $150 per ton resulting in a combined average of $0.1575 cents per pound. In 2006, the contract seed market price averaged $0.15 cents per pound, up from the contract price of $0.10 cents per pound in 2005.
In 2007, the project’s oil was sold to Natural Selection, an operation that is making biofuel for individual farms, at a price of $0.38 cents per pound; the meal was sold to Rhod McIntosh at a price of $200 per ton for a combined average of $0.16 cents per pound. In 2007, the contract seed market price increased to an average of $0.18 cents per pound.
In 2008, the project’s oil was also sold to Steve Camps, a local producer, for a price of $0.31 cents per pound with the meal being sold at $225 per ton again to Rhod McIntosh for a combined average of $0.165 cents per pound. In 2008, the contract seed market price increased to an average of $0.25 cents per pound.
Feed and Forage reports were completed on the canola meal. Four categories looked at were fat, omega 3, omega 6 and protein with the numbers from the multiple reports averaged to reveal the following: fat 16.15%, omega 3 7.07%, omega 6 19.10%, and protein 33.37%.
This demonstration project has benefitted both producers and consumers. For producers, the project will demonstrate the positives in having an oilseed crop in their rotation such as improved weed control, improved soil health, and yield potential; less fuel is used in the direct seeding system; and it will provide a secondary market for the oilseed by-product sales, assisting economically. For the consumer, increased oilseed acres will allow for easier availability for biodiesel allowing for a cleaner fuel to be used resulting in cleaner air; and provide a local source for livestock producers wishing to use oilseed meal and sludge as a feed additive.
The project uses the direct seed system due to its many environmental benefits to soil, air, water quality and wildlife; enhancements occur through: reduced soil erosion, reduced sediment in the streams and rivers; reduced blowing dust; reduced phosphorous, nitrogen and pesticides in surface waters; and overall improvement in soil quality/health. In the direct seed system crop residue remains on the field throughout the year thereby providing food and cover to wildlife. Proper crop rotations that include oilseed crops can reduce weeds, diseases, and insect pressure; and improve soil health and fertility.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Information about this project was being distributed very early in the program. The Whitman County Commissioners, The Port of Whitman, and the Washington Canola-Rapeseed Commission were all contacted and on-board as being participants each providing the needed cash match for the initial purchase and set-up of the crusher and trailer.
This project received much publicity locally and through the demonstrations at the Palouse Empire Fair for the past three years. Each year, it was estimated that 62 persons stopped to visit the demonstration and/or discuss the process during the non-demonstration period. Several individuals made contact with the participants for the purchase of both the oil and the meal. There have been additional inquiries regarding use of the crusher and a list of by-products for sale.
An informational brochure, Oilseed Farm-to Market Demonstration, was created for project specific outreach purposes, which includes the objectives and the outcomes.
An informational brochure, Benefits of Adding an Oilseed Crop to your Rotation, was also created that explains the general idea of oilseed crop benefits.
The Whitman County Gazette did several articles on the project (publication dates: February 9, 2006; September 7, 2006; March 22, 2007; as well as ads in the Fair Insert) which circulates in and out of County lines.
The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported the project and partnerships in an article published on January 18, 2006.
Whitman Conservation District’s newsletter, The Steward has published articles on the project in the following editions: January and July 2006; March 2007; and January 2008. This final report will be published in short form in 2009, advertising the availability of the full report and brochures.
The Whitman County Gazette is now publishing weekly the Canola Market Price along with the other commodities.
The District’s webpage (http://whitmancd.scc.wa.gov) has the project highlighted.
The District made a presentation about the project at the Columbia County Conservation District’s Annual Meeting in 2007. There were approximately 50 attendees and they were very interactive with suggestions, information (more local to their area), and questions regarding the by-product market and sales.
The District presented an update on the project to the Washington Canola/Rapeseed Commission in 2007. The first year was reviewed with outcomes, where the project and participants were located and what was going to take place at the fair.
The crusher was used for a senior project being completed by Nick G’Feller at Colfax High School entitled, “Making Biodiesel Start to Finish”; the start being that he seeded his own canola crop and the finish being that he created biodiesel on their family farm. At the time of this report, his numbers were not finalized. The project will be presented to a High School Review Board increasing the awareness of oilseeds and their impact in the economic world as well as an alternative on-farm fuels program.
The project start-up cost was $25,918, which included the oil seed expeller (crusher) and the cost to ship it here; the trailer, licensing, and the fabricated components (seed bin, auger, seed oil drain pan and crusher stand); the 55-gallon drums for oil; and miscellaneous items needed for decaling and use during crushing.
Economic impacts that were seen: the reduced use of diesel fuel from approximately six gallons per acre to two gallons per acre using the direct seed system; by adding an oilseed to the rotation, the marketability is increased from one product (crop) to up to four by-products (oil, meal, glycerol, and sludge); and proper crop rotations reduced or maintained the level of crop chemicals use, assisted with weed control and increased the wheat crop yields. The oilseeds can be grown in a conventional-till or minimum-till system, but the production costs would be higher than the direct seed system.
In 2005, when the project funding was awarded, the contract price for oilseeds averaged $0.10 cents per pound. If the price had remained constant, the marketing of the by-products would have proven more profitable than the contract seed price. In 2006, the contract price for oilseeds averaged $0.15 cents per pound; the canola by-products sold at a combined price of $0.1575 cents per pound. In 2007, the contract price for oilseeds averaged $0.18 cents per pound; the canola by-products sold at a combined price of $0.16 cents per pound. In 2008, the contract seed price for oilseeds averaged $0.25 cents per pound; the canola by-products sold at a combined price of $0.165 cents per pound.
At Mark Hall’s, the first location, the crusher was operated for about a month in 2006 for cooperators Del and Steve Teade. Eight neighboring producers stopped by to see the crusher operation. One of the neighbors has already created biodiesel by using used vegetable oil from local restaurants and was interested in the oilseed oil from the project.
At Rhod McIntosh’s, the second location, the crusher was operated for the balance of the project. Five producers/ranchers visited the crusher in operation. Their main interest was use of the canola meal for livestock feed. The 12 tons of meal was spoken for prior to the crushing being completed each year.
In discussion with those thirteen neighboring producers/operators which visited the different shops during the crushing process, it is estimated that there are 27,000 acres being farmed of which 5,700 acres of canola could be seeded. One producer currently purchases used fryer oil from local restaurants to create his own biodiesel for on-farm use.
Steve Camp, a local producer that has observed the project, experimented with oilseeds in the 15” rainfall zone, growing Camelina in 2008 with the direct seed system. He sent a portion of his seed to Natural Selections be crushed and returned as biofuel which he plans on storing and using on-farm. He also purchased oil from Tom Conrad and had it sent to Natural Selections as an exchange system. For a nominal fee, he gets biodiesel returned from the oil he sends in. Steve stated that he is using it on farm in a select number of vehicles and should save money when compared to the cost of commercial diesel.
The project reports were published in the District’s newsletter The Steward which has a circulation of 900 to include producers, the public, schools, and state and local government.
Demonstrations of the oil seed crusher took place at the Palouse Empire Fair each year of the grant. There were a total of 15 showings with an estimated total of 186 people in attendance. The attendees were a combination of high school students, college students, producers, livestock operators, county commissioners, a state representative, university professors, state and federal agency representatives and the general public.
Overall the participants felt that the concept was good, especially for canola with the multiple end uses and felt that on farm, with coordination, would be feasible. The potential is there but many legal and economic hurdles must be overcome before many producers will make a significant commitment to having it on-farm from start to finish. The participants will continue to grow oilseed in their rotation due to the benefits they see and are happy that the contract seed price has increased.
Additional acres of brassicas crops have been limited due to the high commodity price of the cereal grains and lower diesel prices at this time.
Areas needing additional study
One question posed during a demonstration was about how much more efficient biodiesel is than ethanol and if there were facts to support the difference.
One question posed during a demonstration was how many varieties of canola are available to grow and if there was a noticeable difference with the oil yield.
This project did have some of the meal tested for feed value. A more complete study could be completed as to its benefit as cow feed versus other available cow feed, and the economic value.
This project did not address the full cost of production for the meal and oil. A more complete economic study could be completed.