Do you currently grow, press, and/or process oilseeds? Interested in sharing some of your knowledge with us? Please click on the link below to complete one or two brief online surveys so we can gather more information and work to bring you the most recent research! The surveys will help guide our work to best align with what is meaningful and of immediate need to you, as well as gauging the effects our work has and helping to fund future projects. Even if you’ve filled out similar surveys in the past, we’d really appreciate if you’d take the time on these.
Thanks to everyone who braved the snowstorm to attend the 2013 Annual Oilseed Producers Meeting in Berlin, VT. The day-long meeting allowed us to share experiences, check in about current research and future plans, and hear research on bird management, edible oils, meal nutrition, and small-scale press designs. Check out our most recent research reports, and peruse through some of the presentations that were given on March 19:
- Chris Callahan and Hannah Harwood’s preliminary results of small-scale oilseed press design evaluations (PDF)
- Sabrina Greenwood’s presentation on feeding oilseed meal to livestock (PDF)
- Alan Eaton’s presentation on bird management in oilseed crops (YouTube video)
Oilseeds, such as sunflower and canola, are swiftly becoming a new diversifying crop for farming operations in Vermont. Oil extracted from the oilseeds is being used for on-farm fuel production, and the leftover meal is pelleted and used as a high protein livestock feed. Farmers are getting two bangs for their buck! Alternatively a few farmers are growing the oil and selling a high value food-grade culinary oil. The goal of our Extension program is to develop best practices for oilseed production in a temperate climate.
We compiled research and agronomic advice for sunflower and canola growers into the publication “Oilseed Production in the Northeast,” which is designed to provide basic information on planting, production, pest management, harvesting, and processing seed. Because oilseed crops are relatively new to the Northeast, making use of regional research is key to establishing a good crop.
The Farm Fresh Fuel Project, which took place in Grand Isle County, Vermont in 2012 as a pilot project, aims to involve as many farmers as possible in the production of oilseed crops. By focusing on this one VT county, where farmers and community members are involved in implementation and delivery, oilseed crop yields will be improved and more farmers will adopt the practice of growing sunflowers and canola, specifically. For more information on 2012 results, click here.
Curious about the growers who are making oilseed production work here in Vermont? Click on this link to read profiles on some of the conventional and organic farms that are successfully growing oilseed crops for feed, fuel, and/or food.
Vermont Oilseed Crop Production Cost and Profit Calculator Release 1.4 (xls). Brought to you by a joint effort between UVM Extension and the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. As Part of the VSJF’s ongoing Vermont Biofuels Initiative and UVM Extension’s research, this tool is intended to help farmers determine their total cost of production for oilseeds and oilseed products (e.g. meal, oil, biodiesel.) The tool also allows the user to determine a potential profit based on assumed market pricing for these products. Summary results are provided as reference and are based on either compiled Vermont oilseed grower data or other published data from other parts of the USA. Whenever possible, the user should carefully review their own specific data to arrive at the entered information.
If you’re curious about the economic viability of oilseed crops in Vermont, please take a look at this recent report on Vermont’s On-Farm Oilseed Enterprises from the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund’s Vermont Bioenergy Initiative. The report provides an in-depth look into some of the costs of production, equipment, and facilities involved in producing fuel with homegrown oilseeds, including figures on break-even prices, profitability, and market values.
2010 National Canola Variety Trial (pdf)
2009 Oilseed Meal Report- Assessing the Value of Oilseed meals for Soil Fertility and Weed Suppression (pdf)
2008 Sunflower Report (pdf)
Small-Scale Oilseed Production, by Renee Ciulla for the Rodale Institute – December 17, 2012
Technical Feasibility of Small-Scale Oilseed and On-Farm Biodiesel Production: A Vermont Case Study, in the Journal of Extension – December 2012
Oilseed Crops Give Farmers Options, by Andrea Suozzo in the Addison County Independent – August 2, 2012
Who Will This Feed? Local Grain and Oil Production in Vermont, by Elizabeth Ferry in Local Banquet – Spring 2009
Farm Fresh Fuel, by Joshua Brown – March 7, 2007
Thank you to those who were able to make it to the 2012 Annual Oilseed Producers Meeting.
We were glad to see attendees from six U.S. states and from Quebec! Here are some of the resources we shared and discussed:
Oilseed Cost and Profit Calculator designed by Chris at Callahan Engineering, PLLC and downloadable for free
Oil Crops Outlook from the USDA
Mobile biodiesel trailer designed by the nonprofit GreenStart, based in NH
Professor Ryan Elias’ work on food-grade canola oil:
Agronomist Etienne Tardif’s presentation on Eastern Canadian canola research and industry:
A highlight from the biodiesel work of Doug Schaufler, Penn State Farm Services Senior Project Associate:
There wasn’t time to share what Dr. Heather Karsten had prepared, but she kindly offered to give us access here:
New England On-Farm Energy Conference 2010 Manchester, NH
Contact information for conference speakers can be found in their individual presentations.
Innovative Systems for Harvesting and Pressing Oilseeds, Roger Rainville, Borderview Farm, Alburgh, VT
Pressing Soybeans at Rainbow Valley Farm Biodiesel, Mark Mordasky, Rainbow Valley Farm, Orwell, VT
Fats and Oils Quality, Characteristics, Extraction, and Refining Overview Ralph Turner, PE, Laughingstock Farm, Freeport, ME
Operating Farm Equipment on Bio-Based Oil and Fuels, Doug Schaufler, PE, Penn State
Sunflowers for Biofuel Production- A link to eXtension webpage with information on sunflowers current potential for use as a biofuel, biology/ adaptation, production, pest management, harvest and storage, and production yields. Contributors include Vern Grubinger, UVM Extension Vegetable and Berry Specialist and our own team members Heather Darby, UVM Extension Agronomist and Philip Halteman, former Northwest Crops and Soils Technician.
Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund Bioenergy Initiative- Includes helpful information about oilseed production in Vermont, as well as grower profiles, descriptions of ongoing research projects, and resources for interested growers and processors.
National Sunflower Association: Growers – A link to a series of videos done by John Smith of the Univ. of Nebraska about improving plant spacing. Valuable information about eliminating skips and doubles and about performance of various seed plates and finger pickups.
North Dakota State University: Row Crops and Oilseeds – A link to a series of agronomic information from sunflowers to canola under the direction of Hans Kandel NDSU Extension Agronomist.
Timelapse photography of a soybean and sunflower field over the course of the 2011 growing season:
Dr. Heather Darby of the University of Vermont Extension describes some of the agronomic aspects of oilseed production in the Northeast, as well as describing our research:
VPT’s Emerging Science- Episode 2: Ecological Economics Several scientists from the University of Vermont and University of Vermont Extension, including our own Heather Darby, discuss Ecological Economics and how it relates to growing biofuels in Vermont. Funding for the broadcast was provided by EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research). This program supports science and engineering at Vermont colleges and businesses to encourage young Vermonters to seek careers in science.