- Agronomic: canola
- Crop Production: double cropping
- Energy: bioenergy and biofuels
- Farm Business Management: value added
- Production Systems: general crop production
Outcomes: The rapid expansion of the biodiesel industry in the US provides challenges and opportunities for agricultural sustainability. Increasing biodiesel sustainability will likely require diversifying beyond the soybean. Farmers, processors, and researchers 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. Context: Biofuels, including biodiesel, are playing an increasing role as end-uses for agricultural products and as drivers of rural land use decisions, presenting challenges and opportunities for farmers and rural communities. Fuel quality is a significant issue in the biodiesel industry, and may provide a key leverage point for introducing alternative oilseed crops to Midwest. Research indicates that winter canola and related crops have high yield potential in the region, while the composition of their oil may also address biofuel quality issues. A unique opportunity for crop diversification may be at hand. Approach: Farmers, biodiesel processors, and researchers will collaborate in research on alternative oilseed crop agronomics and feedstock properties in on-farm, on-station, and lab settings. Winter canola will be produced and processed into biodiesel at commercial pilot scale. Cost of production and supply chain issues will be addressed. Outputs: Field days at on-farm, on-station, and biodiesel plant sites will be conducted. Results will be reported in the popular and scientific presses, and at research and industry meetings. Evaluation: Evaluation during the project will monitor process and progress toward outcomes, and surveys will be used at outreach events and after the project to assess public impact.
Project objectives from proposal:
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).