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  #1  
Old 10-16-2005, 01:53 AM
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Growing rapeseed for biodiesel: what's the yield?

J.R.B!

Before the shifting of the earth here, you mentioned that you were maybe going to start growing rapeseed or some other seed (I forget) for fuel. I'm curious what the cost of that fuel might be. I imagine that'd be a pretty difficult question to answer, especially if you haven't done it before.

I read, now and then, claims that ethanol requires more BTUs to grow and produce it than it yields. I'm thinking that's not right but I could see the possible dilemma. Then there's the possibility that widespread growing of fuel crops -- oil or ethanol -- would be fairly taxing on farmland. I don't want to make trouble here, but neither do I want to embace false promise.

I read somewhere about a farmer raising rapeseed and running all his equipment on it. My hope is that rapeseed could be raised using an amount of bio-diesel that was a small fraction of the yield of the operation. If it can't be, doesn't look good to raise oil exclusively for fuel, as opposed to raising oil crops for restaurant use first, recycled for fuel use second. Used cooking oil is no way going to fill in for world-wide demand for petroleum (duhhh...) so if virgin oil can't be used for fuel at decent rates, oh man, what next?

I've also read that using ethanol instead of the more toxic methanol to make biodiesel is possible but more difficult. Is methanol obtainable from plant material entirely? I mean it is called wood alcohol. Hell, I should yahoo it and find out.
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Last edited by cmac2012; 10-16-2005 at 01:59 AM.
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  #2  
Old 10-16-2005, 10:41 AM
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Rape (canola) seed yields somewhere between 30% and 40% oil. Let's use 40%

You get about 30 - 70 bu/acre. Let's use 50bu/acre.

There are 8 gallons per bushel (dry).

40%(yield) * 50bu/acre * 8 gal/1bu = gallons/acre.

Figuring the price of pesticides, fertilizers, cultivation, etc that will be necessary for max yield will tell you how much a gallon of oil costs. What's the yield of biodiesel from canola, 60%? Remember to factor-in that, too. Your price will/gal will be directly proportional to the biodiesel recovery rate.

B
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Old 10-16-2005, 02:01 PM
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I'm guesstimating ~160 Gal/acre, or about $560 worth of fuel. Not the most economic way to do things. Especially up in the SF area where land is at a premium. Not to mention that you're hosed whilst you await your crop. Kinda why biodiesel is impractical unless done on a large scale. Even on a large scale, once everyone wants it, it'll be pricey. But ADM will be happy...
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Old 10-16-2005, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmac2012
J.R.B!

Before the shifting of the earth here, you mentioned that you were maybe going to start growing rapeseed or some other seed (I forget) for fuel. I'm curious what the cost of that fuel might be. I imagine that'd be a pretty difficult question to answer, especially if you haven't done it before.

I read, now and then, claims that ethanol requires more BTUs to grow and produce it than it yields. I'm thinking that's not right but I could see the possible dilemma. Then there's the possibility that widespread growing of fuel crops -- oil or ethanol -- would be fairly taxing on farmland. I don't want to make trouble here, but neither do I want to embace false promise.

I read somewhere about a farmer raising rapeseed and running all his equipment on it. My hope is that rapeseed could be raised using an amount of bio-diesel that was a small fraction of the yield of the operation. If it can't be, doesn't look good to raise oil exclusively for fuel, as opposed to raising oil crops for restaurant use first, recycled for fuel use second. Used cooking oil is no way going to fill in for world-wide demand for petroleum (duhhh...) so if virgin oil can't be used for fuel at decent rates, oh man, what next?

I've also read that using ethanol instead of the more toxic methanol to make biodiesel is possible but more difficult. Is methanol obtainable from plant material entirely? I mean it is called wood alcohol. Hell, I should yahoo it and find out.
At www.journeytoforever.org is a list of different seeds and the oil yeild per bushel. According to the charts and what Bot has said I will probably have to sacrifice 15 acres to supply my needs, which I'm willing to do. This is figuring a poor to average crop. My neighbor has been farming for at least 5 years on his own fuel. He uses sunflower seeds and has a crushing machine. I'm going to try to get to see him before he makes his yearly winter exodus to Arizona and look at his set up. I will probably build my own in my machine shop. I would have seen him a couple of weeks ago but I smashed my right knee cap and have been on crutches with a lot of pain. Maybe next week I will feel better and see him. The down side of the crushing for me is the fact that I will be one year behind times and will have to farm with #2 again. I have been mixing used crankcase oil @ 10% this summer. If I can accumulate enough crankcase oil it should offset my fuel expenses this coming year so I can limp through. I'm a cheap SOB. I'll keep you guys posted on the crushing equipment and if I build my own I'll show you guys how I do it.
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  #5  
Old 10-16-2005, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. R. B.
At www.journeytoforever.org is a list of different seeds and the oil yeild per bushel. According to the charts and what Bot has said I will probably have to sacrifice 15 acres to supply my needs, which I'm willing to do. This is figuring a poor to average crop. My neighbor has been farming for at least 5 years on his own fuel. He uses sunflower seeds and has a crushing machine. I'm going to try to get to see him before he makes his yearly winter exodus to Arizona and look at his set up. I will probably build my own in my machine shop. I would have seen him a couple of weeks ago but I smashed my right knee cap and have been on crutches with a lot of pain. Maybe next week I will feel better and see him. The down side of the crushing for me is the fact that I will be one year behind times and will have to farm with #2 again. I have been mixing used crankcase oil @ 10% this summer. If I can accumulate enough crankcase oil it should offset my fuel expenses this coming year so I can limp through. I'm a cheap SOB. I'll keep you guys posted on the crushing equipment and if I build my own I'll show you guys how I do it.
Not mentioned in what I posted above is the fact that rape seed also has considerable protein.

After extracting the oil, the remaining material could be mixed with other food material for livestock. To work out proper ratios of other sources you'd probably want to know specifically which amino acids are in rapeseed and how much. Then you'd need the requirements for your livestock (or poultry). Etc.
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  #6  
Old 10-16-2005, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Botnst
Not mentioned in what I posted above is the fact that rape seed also has considerable protein.

After extracting the oil, the remaining material could be mixed with other food material for livestock. To work out proper ratios of other sources you'd probably want to know specifically which amino acids are in rapeseed and how much. Then you'd need the requirements for your livestock (or poultry). Etc.
My neighbor feeds the sunflower cake to his cattle. You wouldn't happen to have a ballpark figure on the percent of protein in rapeseed cake would you? It might be in my interest to raise a few hogs again on the waste.
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  #7  
Old 10-16-2005, 11:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmac2012
J.R.B!

Before the shifting of the earth here, you mentioned that you were maybe going to start growing rapeseed or some other seed (I forget) for fuel. I'm curious what the cost of that fuel might be. I imagine that'd be a pretty difficult question to answer, especially if you haven't done it before.

I read, now and then, claims that ethanol requires more BTUs to grow and produce it than it yields. I'm thinking that's not right but I could see the possible dilemma. Then there's the possibility that widespread growing of fuel crops -- oil or ethanol -- would be fairly taxing on farmland. I don't want to make trouble here, but neither do I want to embace false promise.

I read somewhere about a farmer raising rapeseed and running all his equipment on it. My hope is that rapeseed could be raised using an amount of bio-diesel that was a small fraction of the yield of the operation. If it can't be, doesn't look good to raise oil exclusively for fuel, as opposed to raising oil crops for restaurant use first, recycled for fuel use second. Used cooking oil is no way going to fill in for world-wide demand for petroleum (duhhh...) so if virgin oil can't be used for fuel at decent rates, oh man, what next?

I've also read that using ethanol instead of the more toxic methanol to make biodiesel is possible but more difficult. Is methanol obtainable from plant material entirely? I mean it is called wood alcohol. Hell, I should yahoo it and find out.
Rapeseed on average will yield 115 gal. per acre, soybeans will produce around 50-55 gal per acre and peanut is around 100. That of course is dependent on your soil.
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Old 10-16-2005, 11:48 PM
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Mac, I thought you lived in an apartment. We're you going to rooftop garden?
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  #9  
Old 10-18-2005, 05:00 AM
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Apartment?! No, I live in a large house with other Bezerkely-ites. We are currently ripping up half of the roadways in the Bay Area and planting Rapeseed in all of the freed up land.

Nah, I'm just indulging my fantasies about what could maybe be done to maintain some vestige of our motorized living as petro supplies dwindle and/or become more dicey to procure. Used cooking oil will never provide more than a small fraction of our energy needs, though I think it's a good avenue to pursue. The great thing about Bio-diesel, of course, is that the carbon in the fuel was taken out of the atmosphere last fall.

Somehow, we need to stop buning fossil carbon, for about 5 good reasons. I know it's not going to happen soon. It'd be nice if growing rapeseed or other seed crops for fuel actually had some commercial promise and it may eventually. Right now, used oil biodiesel is only about $.35 more per gallon than diesel #2.

Sure, I'd like to pay less, say by burning gasoline instead, but it's time to put my money where my mouth is.
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  #10  
Old 10-18-2005, 05:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. R. B.
At www.journeytoforever.org is a list of different seeds and the oil yeild per bushel. According to the charts and what Bot has said I will probably have to sacrifice 15 acres to supply my needs, which I'm willing to do. This is figuring a poor to average crop. My neighbor has been farming for at least 5 years on his own fuel. He uses sunflower seeds and has a crushing machine. I'm going to try to get to see him before he makes his yearly winter exodus to Arizona and look at his set up. I will probably build my own in my machine shop. I would have seen him a couple of weeks ago but I smashed my right knee cap and have been on crutches with a lot of pain. Maybe next week I will feel better and see him. The down side of the crushing for me is the fact that I will be one year behind times and will have to farm with #2 again. I have been mixing used crankcase oil @ 10% this summer. If I can accumulate enough crankcase oil it should offset my fuel expenses this coming year so I can limp through. I'm a cheap SOB. I'll keep you guys posted on the crushing equipment and if I build my own I'll show you guys how I do it.
Damn, good luck on that knee. I spend a lot of time on mine, putting in baseboard and the like and they're fragile on most all of us. I put my kneepads on first thing on the job.

Good news about your neighbor. I wouldn't be surprise if someday, virgin oil for biodiesel will be cost competitive with petro fuel. Of course, they'll be using coal for some sort of liquid fuel extract for a while, hundreds of years perhaps, after petro gets overly scarce.
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  #11  
Old 10-18-2005, 08:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. R. B.
My neighbor feeds the sunflower cake to his cattle. You wouldn't happen to have a ballpark figure on the percent of protein in rapeseed cake would you? It might be in my interest to raise a few hogs again on the waste.
Canadians seem to have done the most thorough research on the uses of rapeseed (canola). Here's an example.

http://www.canola-council.org/meal7.html

Canola Meal
Canola Meal Feed Industry Guide


<< Back to Introduction

Cattle Diets

Canola meal is widely used in cattle feeds. In dairy cattle feeds, it is considered to be a premium ingredient due to the high quality of its protein with respect to requirements for milk production.



Rumen Degradability



The rumen degradability of canola meal protein has been extensively studied. Table 1 provides a summary of the effective degradability of the dry matter and crude protein fractions of canola meal assuming a rumen turn-over rate of 5% per hour. Ha and Kennelly (1984) reported that the effective degradability of canola meal protein was 65.8%. Effective degradabilities of soybean meal and dehydrated alfalfa were 53.6 and 41.4%, respectively. Kendall et al. (1991) found that the effective degradability of canola meal averaged 51.5%. This compared to 59.1% for soybean meal. Cheng et al. (1993) reported that the effective degradability of canola meal was 62.5% with concentrate diets and 72 to 74% with hay or straw diets. Therefore, it is important when evaluating such results for ration formulation purposes to consider the type of diet into which the protein supplement is to be incorporated. Piepenbrink and Schingoethe (1998) reported a rumen degradability of canola meal of 53.1%.



Research at the University of Manitoba has focused on the digestibility of the amino acids present in canola meal. Kendall et al. (1991) noted that following 12 hours of rumen incubation, total tract digestibilities of amino acids present in canola meal approached 85% or greater. Considerable variation was noted between samples and between amino acids in the proportion degraded ruminally or absorbed postruminally. Boila and Ingalls (1992) reported that the amino acid profile of canola meal protein that bypasses the rumen was superior in valine, isoleucine, threonine, phenylalanine, serine, aspartate and alanine, relative to unincubated meal. The magnitude of the enrichment in the bypass fraction ranged from 14 to 33%.



The results, in combination with the data presented in Table 1, suggest that a sizable but variable fraction of the protein of canola meal bypasses the rumen. In light of the enriched amino acid content of the bypass fraction observed by Boila and Ingalls (1992), it would appear that canola meal provides an important contribution to both rumen microbial protein needs as well as to the digestible amino acids required for animal growth and lactation.
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Old 10-18-2005, 09:05 AM
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Thanks for the info and web site Bot. I think that if the govt. would let the farmers farm, and farm correctly the farmers could provide not only the worlds food but a large portion of energy. Too much valualble farm land in my area is tied up in the CRP boondogle. Have you heard of the Opti-Crop method of farming? Two of the farms in my area are experimenting with it and raising some hellacious crops.
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Old 10-18-2005, 12:53 PM
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I found numerous sites from an opti-crop search. I'll have to read up on that.

Does no-till ag have any promise? I've read about it here and there as a means to reduce soil erosion. I can see the limitations to it. It's a bit sobering to read about the 50 and 60 foot thick topsoils of the Palouse region of Wash. and Idaho being as much as half eroded in just over a hundred years of cultivation. I was caught in a couple of dust storms on my way to WSU, aka Cow Tech back in the early 70s.

I agree that farmed energy is the way to go. My only concern is that we don't beat up our topsoil so people can run their battleship size RVs all over creation.

This era of profligate energy use is destined to be a short one, methinks.
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Old 10-18-2005, 05:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmac2012
I found numerous sites from an opti-crop search. I'll have to read up on that.

Does no-till ag have any promise? I've read about it here and there as a means to reduce soil erosion. I can see the limitations to it. It's a bit sobering to read about the 50 and 60 foot thick topsoils of the Palouse region of Wash. and Idaho being as much as half eroded in just over a hundred years of cultivation. I was caught in a couple of dust storms on my way to WSU, aka Cow Tech back in the early 70s.

I agree that farmed energy is the way to go. My only concern is that we don't beat up our topsoil so people can run their battleship size RVs all over creation.

This era of profligate energy use is destined to be a short one, methinks.
I agree with you about the "battleship size RVs". I believe it's Brian Carlton that calls them $hitboxes and this is a term I have begun to use quite frequently. I can't see growing fuel for these vehicles. Growing fuel for a $hitbox is a waste of my time. As far as no-till goes in my situation it wouldn't work too well. Every "good" farmer knows and understands what his land will take. My fields get a "rest" every three years. That means trashy summer fallow. The trash is provided by the previous years crop of clover which is plowed down in it's entirety. The clover that gets buried is my fertilizer. The remaining trash on top is to prevent erosion and save moisture. The following year said field gets wheat. After I have studied the full particulars of canola that Bot shined me onto I will figure out how to incorporate it into my rotation plan.
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Old 10-18-2005, 09:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. R. B.
Thanks for the info and web site Bot. I think that if the govt. would let the farmers farm, and farm correctly the farmers could provide not only the worlds food but a large portion of energy. Too much valualble farm land in my area is tied up in the CRP boondogle. Have you heard of the Opti-Crop method of farming? Two of the farms in my area are experimenting with it and raising some hellacious crops.
Scientific farming is originally an English innovation that Americans and Canadians changed and adapted to large acreage.

Agricultural engineering departments at major land grant universities in the USA looked at combining accurate positional information combined with mapped field factors before GPS went commercial, but the systems were extremely expensive. When GPS became inexpensive and real-time differential corrections could be made to give 1 meter accuracy, lots of companies became extremely interested in engaging farmers with the enw technology.

Here is a company that I worked with extensively, pre-GPS ( http://www.deltadatasystems.com/agis/index.html). When I worked with them they were porting NASA remote sensing/image analysis (ELAS) from mainframe to 80286 PC's and combining the images with a proprietary database. It worked, but it was one of those command line interfaces that only complete nerds love. I was issued a pocket protector and tape for my glasses. Since those days the company has largely discarded its natural resources mission and completely embraced agriculture.

If I were considering getting into that type of farming, I'd hire a consultant to set-up the system (acquire the data, establish grids, create the database, etc) and then get the consultant to hand-maiden me the second year. Unless you have lots of time and love spec-ing and setting-up computer technology and GIS.

Bot
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