Save the Date – MN Biodiesel & Bioheat Forum

Save the date for the Biodiesel and Bioheat Forum taking place August 19, 2015 in Mankato, Minnesota.

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 9.39.12 AMStates up and down the East Coast have ventured into new markets and uses for biodiesel that offer significant potential for Minnesota and U.S. soybean farmers as well as the entire biodiesel industry. One market includes the Bioheat market – nearly 6.2 million homes rely on heating oil in the winter months. In fact, the average home can use more than 1,000 gallons in one winter.

The Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council will host a delegation from the East Coast, as well as local and national biodiesel leaders. The group will include representatives from the New York Oil Heating Association, National Association of Oil & Energy Service Professionals, National Oilheat Research Alliance and the Massachusetts Energy Marketers Association, ready to share their experiences with biodiesel and explain the market potential in all arenas.

While much of the debate around biofuels revolves around future technologies and future uses, this round table discussion will look at opportunities available now for the biodiesel industry to grow and solidify its success.

Neb Governor Ricketts On Global Biofuels Tour

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has been spending the past few weeks on a global agriculture and biofuels promotion tour. Ricketts attended Expo Milano 2015 last week and while there, he visited the “Sustainable Farm Pavilion” sponsored by New Holland where with a group that included CNH Industrial Governor-Ricketts-Headshot-FINALdiscussed Nebraska’s ethanol industry. CNH Industrial operates a Combine Center of Excellence in Grand Island, Nebraska.

Carlo Lambro, a member of the Group Executive Council and Brand President of New Holland Agriculture, spoke to the group about their commitment to using biofuels across all sectors as well as highlight their local investments in agriculture. Nebraska is the top state in terms of cattle feed and the Nebraska ethanol industry, the second largest ethanol producer in the U.S., produces more than six million tons of livestock feed each year.

The meeting also addressed Governor Ricketts’ active advocacy for the widespread use of ethanol as a biofuel in the United States. The two parties discussed their shared commitment in promoting the use of alternative fuels, which include natural gas and biomethane.

Gov. Ricketts and his Nebraska delegation had discussions in Italy about renewable fuels with Italian energy company Enel. Next, the group headed to Brussels, Belgium where they have planned a visit to Novozyme’s headquarters in Denmark. The company operates a plant in Blair, Nebraska that makes enzymes used in the ethanol industry.

Camelina Offers Dual-Crop Possibility for Biodiesel

camelina harvest1Camelina could help end the food-versus-fuel debate for biodiesel. This article from the American Society of Agronomy says that new research found that growing camelina with soybeans in the Upper Midwest has promising signs.

Russ Gesch, a plant physiologist with the USDA Soil Conservation Research Lab in Morris, Minnesota, found encouraging results when growing Camelina sativa with soybean in the Midwest.

Camelina is a member of the mustard family and an emerging biofuel crop. It is well suited as a cover crop in the Midwest. “Finding any annual crop that will survive the [Midwest] winters is pretty difficult,” says Gesch, “but winter camelina does that and it has a short enough growing season to allow farmers to grow a second crop after it during the summer.”

Additionally, in the upper Midwest, soils need to retain enough rainwater for multiple crops in one growing season. Gesch and his colleagues measured water use of two systems of dual-cropping using camelina and soybean. They compared it with a more typical soybean field at the Swan Lake Research Farm near Morris, MN.

First, researchers planted camelina at the end of September. From there growing methods differed. In double-cropping, soybean enters the field after the camelina harvest in June or July. Relay-cropping, however, overlaps the crops’ time. Soybeans grow between rows of camelina in April or May before the camelina plants mature and flower.

While dual-cropping might not work for everyone, such as farms in the more arid West, where it does work, it also offers benefits, such as boosting soybean yields. Plus, the camelina flowers offer a good food source for pollinators at a time when there might not be a lot for the bees to eat.

Michigan Winery Goes Solar

The largest solar agribusiness installation at a winery, Chateau Chantal Winery & Inn, is now online after a ceremonious flip of the switch by Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. “Michigan IS a leader in renewable energy,” staid U.S. Senator Stabenow. “Make, grow and innovate – that’s what we do best in Michigan.”

Chateau Chantal Power Up Switch_052915The 148.5 kW Harvest Energy Solutions solar installation will offset 40 percent of the winery’s energy needs. More than 50 invited guests were on hand to celebrate completion of the solar project.

“We’ve been harvesting grapes on this farm for 29 years and are now excited to diversify by harvesting the sun’s energy with the largest solar array at a Michigan winery,” said Marie-Chantal Dalese, president and CEO at Chateau Chantal.

Chateau Chantal’s solar PV system is made almost entirely with parts and equipment made in Michigan, from the Harvest Energy Solutions’ manufactured racking and clips to the Michigan-made solar panels.

“At Chateau Chantal, we’ve been incredibly lucky to steward this amazing property on Old Mission Peninsula. Installing a large scale solar array is one more way we can reflect our commitment to a healthy environment. Our vineyard has been MAEAP (Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program) certified for 8 years and we ceased application of chemical fertilizers in our vineyard 10 years ago,” Dalese. Continue reading

USDA Restarts Biomass Crop Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has restarted the Biomass Crop Assistance Program that provides financial assistance to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners interested in growing and harvesting biomass for renewable energy.

According to USDA, financial assistance is available through BCAP for costs associated with harvesting and transporting agriculture or forest residues to facilitibcap_logo_368es that convert biomass crops into energy. Eligible crops may include corn residue, diseased or insect infested wood materials, or orchard waste. The energy facility must first be approved by USDA to accept the biomass crop.

Beginning today (June 1, 2015) facilities can apply for, or renew, their BCAP qualification status. $11.5 million of federal funds will be allocated to support the delivery of biomass materials through December 2015. Last year, more than 200,000 tons of dead or diseased trees from National Forests and Bureau of Land Management lands were removed and used to produce renewable energy, while reducing the risk of forest fire. Nineteen energy facilities in 10 states participated in the program.

Financial assistance is also available to grow biomass crops that will be converted into energy in selected BCAP project areas. New BCAP project area proposals will be solicited beginning this summer and accepted through fall 2015, with new project area announcements and enrollments taking place in early spring 2016. This fiscal year USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will allocate up to $8 million for producer enrollment to expand and enhance existing BCAP project areas. The extended proposal submission period allows project sponsors time to complete any needed environmental assessments and allows producers enough lead time to make informed decisions on whether or not to pursue the BCAP project area enrollment opportunity. This fiscal year USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will allocate up to $8 million for producer enrollment to expand and enhance existing BCAP project areas.

Report: Farmers Can Grow Food, Fuel

According to research conducted by Russ Gesch, a plant physiologist with the USDA Soil Conversation Research Lab in Morris, Minnesota, farmers can successfully and sustainably grow food and fuel. Gesch specifically looked at growing Camelina sativa with soybeans in the Midwest. Gesch’s study was recently published in Agronomy Journal.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 10.14.32 AMCamelina is a member of the mustard family and research shows is well suited as a cover crop in the Midwest. “Finding any annual crop that will survive the [Midwest] winters is pretty difficult,” said Gesch, “but winter camelina does that and it has a short enough growing season to allow farmers to grow a second crop after it during the summer.”

Soils also need to retain enough rainwater for multiple crops in one growing season. Gesch and his colleagues measured water use of two systems of dual-cropping using camelina and soybean. They compared it with a more typical soybean field at the Swan Lake Research Farm near Morris, MN.

Researchers planted camelina at the end of September. From there growing methods differed. In double-cropping, soybean enters the field after the camelina harvest in June or July. Relay-cropping, however, overlaps the crops’ time. Soybeans grow between rows of camelina in April or May before the camelina plants mature and flower. Camelina is being used today to produce aviation biofuels.

Researchers found multiple benefits of Relay-cropping – the technique actually used less water than double-cropping the two plants. Camelina plants have shallow roots and a short growing season, which means they don’t use much water. “Other cover crops, like rye, use a lot more water than does camelina,” said Gesch. Continue reading

Biodiesel Helps 4-H Students Learn Science

4HSome Minnesota 4-H students are learning more about science, thanks to biodiesel. This story from the St. Paul Pioneer Press says this knowledge could help these kids fill an expected 1,000 person gap in those able to fill the business, science engineering and agriculture jobs in this country each year.

For junior high and high school students, “4-H involvement could lead to college, university or even trade school and an ag-related job,” said Josh Rice, who runs the science of agriculture programming at University of Minnesota Extension. “Agricultural awareness is a very important piece of this. There are ag jobs out there and it’s not just production agriculture. It can be marketing, processing, distribution and even social science.”

Minnesota is the first state to start a 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge, which is a team competition showing science and engineering understanding. The teams have three or four members between grades six and 12 who share a common interest. A coach guides them through the scientific or engineering process. The teams also meet with a mentor from the industry, who gives guidance and an inside view of an agricultural career.

Brian and Anna Prchal of Montgomery and their cousin Tyler Fromm of New Hope teamed up to work on biodiesel.

Jodi Prchal, Brian and Anna’s mother and a fifth-grade teacher, is their coach.

Brian created biodiesel from used fryer oil at a local restaurant. He describes the process in detail on how to transform that oil into fuel.

“You can burn straight filtered vegetable oil in a diesel engine, but it gums up the engine,” Brian said…

Jodi Prchal says the critical moment came when they tried it in an engine. Brian had bought a single-cylinder, nine horsepower diesel engine and it ran smoothly on the biodiesel.

The article goes on to say that Brian learned how to make biodiesel for just 70 cents a gallon, as opposed to the $4 a gallon conventional diesel goes for. Anna and Tyler learned how much cleaner the biodiesel burned and how much better it was for engine wear.

Later this summer, they’ll present their work to a panel of judges and compete for scholarship money. Organizers would like to see this state program go nationally.

Novozymes Talks Flexibility for Ethanol at FEW

Novozymes_logo_leftNovozymes, our sponsor for coverage at the upcoming Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW), June 1 – 4 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, will be talking about the company’s flexible solutions to increase ethanol plant profitability and achieve operational goals during FEW. Novozymes invites everyone to stop by its booth #1021 and chat with its knowledgeable team.

Get a sneak peek at Novozymes Bioenergy University – an online training platform to help you boost your operators’ competencies
Play Ethanol Challenge – our fun, interactive new game that explores ethanol production (each day’s top scorer wins an iPad, and everybody who plays gets a prize!)
Fuel your own engine at the Common Ground Cafe – our coffee bar

We also encourage you to join Novozymes in the following FEW sessions:

Yield maximization: propagation and fermentation optimization
Presenter: Derek Payne, Research Associate

Tues., June 2, 1:30-3 p.m.
Track 1: Production and operations
Exploring best practices for yield maximization Continue reading

Bipartisan Bill Expands RVP Ethanol Waiver for 10%+

donnellyA bipartisan bill that increases the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) wavier for ethanol blends above 10 percent has been introduced in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) was joined by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Deb Fischer (R-NE). The legislation would allow for more retailers to sell E15 gasoline/ethanol blended fuel year-round.

Donnelly said, “Biofuels like ethanol are renewable domestic energy sources, create more economic opportunities, and give consumers more options at the gas pump. This legislation would expand the RVP waiver for ethanol blends, increasing the market for ethanol producers in Indiana and around the country and making more clean fuels available to consumers year-round. We should be pursuing an all-in approach toward American energy production that includes ethanol and other biofuels because it helps our economy and increases our national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil. I am proud my colleagues Senator Grassley and Senator Fischer are joining me in this bipartisan effort to reduce the burden of regulations on ethanol producers and consumers.”

Grassley said, “Consumers appreciate having choices, whether it’s at the grocery store or the fuel pump. Those of us who live in biofuels-producing states understand the appeal of cleaner, domestic, renewable fuels. The EPA should be consistent in the way it treats different fuel blends as a matter of fairness and to give consumers more options for fueling their vehicles. The EPA has never acted on its authority to grant a Reid vapor pressure waiver for E15. This bill proposes a legislative fix to fill the void.”

Tom Buis, Growth Energy CEO, said, “We applaud this strong bipartisan effort to remove the largest regulatory hurdle standing between consumers and access to a cleaner, less expensive and higher performing fuel. Senators Donnelly, Grassley and Fischer recognize that higher ethanol blends such as E15 benefit our environment, our economy and our rural communities, and are working together to bring those benefits to every American and move our nation forward. We commend them for taking the lead on this important issue in Congress.”

ncga-logo-newThe National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) also welcomed the news:

“We applaud Senators Donnelly, Grassley, and Fischer for their bipartisan efforts to increase the market for ethanol producers and give consumers more choices at the pump,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling. “June 1 is rapidly approaching, and we should ensure consumers will continue to have access to energy that is clean, renewable, and American-grown. We urge Congress to pass this legislation.”

New Iowa E15 Station Having $1.99/Gallon Event

kum-and-go1Not only does it burn green, but this coming Monday at Iowa’s newest E15 station, the higher blend of ethanol will save you some green. The Kum & Go in Windsor Heights near Des Moines will sell E15 for $1.99 per gallon from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Monday, May 11. This news release from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) says the promotion also coincides with Kum & Go’s announcement last week that the company plans to add E15 to an additional 65 locations in Iowa and six other states over the next two years.

“We have a strong tradition in our company to implement sustainability within our business and at our locations. From our 100 LEED-certified stores, to our selection of alternative fuels, E15 was a natural addition to our fuel offering,” stated Kum & Go Vice President of Fuels Jim Pirolli. “Having E15 in our portfolio allows Kum & Go to offer our customers a quality product at a great value.”

“Motorists have been clamoring for wider availability of E15, and we applaud Kum & Go for providing Iowans with yet another low-cost, cleaner-burning fueling option,” stated IRFA Managing Director Lucy Norton. “E15 is the most extensively tested fuel in history, is safe for use in all 2001 and newer vehicles, and will be priced at a great money-saving discount through this special promotion. That’s a win-win-win for Iowa’s motorists.”

“The American farmer is a backbone of the renewable fuels industry. Thanks to partners like Kum & Go, Iowans can fill up with more American-grown fuels like E15 and E85 that are better for our environment, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and create new Iowa jobs,” stated Iowa Corn Promotion Board Director of Marketing and Communications Shannon Textor. “E15 is five percent more Iowa-grown fuel that supports Iowa’s farmers.”

The Kum & Go Windsor Heights store is located at 7229 University Avenue.