Making Biodiesel and Feed on the Farm

John Davis

One of the big knocks against biodiesel (and other renewable fuels made from grains) is that production of the green fuel takes away from feed for livestock (and for people). Well, a college in Canada is trying to break that image that livestock producers and biodiesel producers can’t work together.

This story from Biodiesel Magazine says the Centre for Agricultural Renewable Energy and Sustainability at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown Campus in Guelph, Ontario, is building a model farm-scale oilseed processing and biodiesel production plant on campus to show how soybean and pork producers can work together to produce biodiesel and feed hogs:

The project is being funded through a CAN$938,000 (US$734,000) grant from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food program, part of Ontario’s Agricultural Adaptation Council.

According to Art Schaafsma, director of the Ridgetown Campus, the facility will help researchers to understand the correct scale for an on-farm biodiesel operation, including how many acres of oilseed crops would be needed to supply feedstocks for biodiesel production and how many hogs would be needed to consume the resulting meal…

Schaafsma said researchers ultimately want to know how much farmers might gain by crushing oilseeds, and making meal and biodiesel on the farm instead of transporting the oilseeds to be sold elsewhere, or purchasing meal and biodiesel elsewhere and transporting it to the farm. Furthermore, the farm-scale, closed-loop model of farming has its detractors. “It doesn’t garner a lot of favor with the folks that argue that you have to have huge scale to be profitable,” he said. “We’re somewhat going against the stream on this.

The article goes on to say that even the glycerin from the biodiesel production could be used for heat or electricity. Since it is being set up by a college, it will be used to teach students as they help run the facility.