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The cost of producing biodiesel from planting an oilseed crop (canola) to processing the oil into biodiesel was evaluated in a pilot run of 17.5 tons of canola seed produced from 30 acres of canola on two farms in northern Maine. One ton of canola oil produced 1260 lbs of meal and 88 gallons of oil in this study. The cost of canola cultivation and storage was estimated to be about $241 a ton. The cost of mechanically extracting the oil was estimated to be $53 a ton. Assuming the seed meal has a value of $150 a ton and subtracting this from the costs noted above, yields a cost of $2.31 a gallon for canola oil. After processing this into biodiesel, there is an estimated breakeven cost of $3.07 a gallon for biodiesel in this system.
Canola variety trials were conducted at three sites in northern New England (Presque Isle, Maine; Orono, Maine, St. Alburg, Vermont).
1) Demonstrate the feasibility of producing biodiesel fuel using a locally grown oilseed crop as a source of raw material.
2) Identify and overcome whatever constraints are encountered in production in a sustainable and community conscious manner.
3) Enumerate costs and returns on production and communicate said results to farmers in New England and the Northeast.
4) Identify varieties of canola that would be most promising for production in New England.