- Agronomic: general oil crops
- Crop Production: tissue analysis
- Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, feasibility study, agricultural finance
- Production Systems: agroecosystems
- Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, sustainability measures
The commercial biodiesel industry is growing rapidly. From 2004 to 2005, biodiesel sales increased from 25 million gallons to nearly 75 million gallons. Agriculture will be an important partner with the biodiesel industry because vegetable oils and animal fats as well as their derivatives are attractive as alternative fuels, fuel-extenders, and fuel-additives for diesel engines. The proposed project addresses Western SARE priorities through research that evaluates an alternative cropping system. This system has potential to enhance the economic and ecological sustainability of farms, through the production of an oilseed crop, with vegetable oil from the crop being used to manufacture biodiesel throughout the High Plains region. Co-products generated from processing the crop for production of biodiesel have the potential to improve production efficiency of livestock.
The overall goal is to develop an integrated system for the ecological and economic stability of agricultural enterprises and rural communities in the High Plains region. Successful completion of the project will lead to enhanced economic development in this semi-arid region by strengthening and capturing value from integrating cropping and livestock systems and providing feedstock for the developing biodiesel industry. Methodologies proposed to accomplish the project are quite common and often practiced by the research team. Growing camelina on cooperating farmers' land and using producer-owned cattle will assure producers continued involvement in conducting research and disseminating results of this proposed project. The field production of camelina will be evaluated in Montana and Wyoming, and, after biodiesel is produced, the feedstuffs generated from processing this oilseed crop will be evaluated as supplements in diets of developing replacement beef heifers. The economics of producing camelina in an extended cropping rotation will be evaluated and compared to the traditional wheat-fallow system. The potential economic impact of increased returns to producers, as well as the processing and marketing of camelina-based biodiesel and animal feeds will be evaluated as a means of enhancing profitability of small farms and adding economic vitality to communities within the region. Ecological sustainability of the two cropping systems will be estimated via a prediction tool used in conservation planning to estimate whether applied conservation practices will result in maintained or increased levels of soil organic matter. Greenhouse gas balance will be modeled in different scenarios of petroleum diesel blended with biodiesel.
The proposed project is relevant to all Western SARE goals. The proposed research is needed to verify the potential economic, environmental, and societal benefits of camelina as an alternative seed crop and feedstock for biofuel and developing replacement heifers. Expected research results would promote good stewardship of natural resources by providing site-specific and regional information on crop, livestock, and enterprise diversification. Overall results of the project’s integrated approach could lead to production of an environmentally friendly fuel while enhancing ecological and economical sustainability of crop and livestock operations in the High Plains.
Project objectives from proposal:
Specific objectives are to: I. Evaluate production of camelina in Montana and Wyoming; II. Evaluate camelina oil for production of biodiesel; III. Evaluate camelina co-products in diets of developing replacement beef heifers; IV. Evaluate the ecological impact and economic potential of: (a) replacing camelina for fallow; (b) utilizing camelina as a feedstock for biodiesel; and (c) including camelina co-products in diets of developing replacement beef heifers.