March 27, 2008

Small scale biodiesel could fuel your truck and feed your cows

Billings, Mont. - Advocates for sustainable, small-scale biodiesel released a study today to provide ranchers with nutritional information about using oilseed meal byproducts from biodiesel production from crops in the Northern Great Plains.

In the study, Biodiesel Benefits for Cattle Producers: Feeding Byproducts of Biodiesel Production, Dr. Greg Lardy, Associate Professor of Animal Science, North Dakota State University, reviewed data regarding the nutritional value of biodiesel byproducts as feedstuffs for cattle on ranches in the Northern Great Plains. Lardy prepared the report for the Western Organization of Resource Councils. The study did not examine the economic feasibility of biodiesel production.

Lardy found use of oilseed meal byproducts in beef cattle operations would be relatively easy.

“Oilseed meals can be used as a feedstuff in a wide variety of beef cattle nutrition applications,” Lardy said. “They are best suited for use as protein supplements in wintering diets for beef cows or in growing and finishing diets for beef calves.” In the study, he analyzed the compatibility of incorporating oilseed meals generated as a byproduct of small scale biodiesel extrusion processors into the nutritional strategy of a 300 cow ranch.

According to the report, potential oilseed crops in the region for biodiesel production include soybeans, sunflowers, safflower, mustard, camelina, and canola. Camelina, sunflower, and canola have the greatest oil content.

Montana rancher Jeanne Charter, representing WORC and the Northern Plains Resource Council, said farm-scale and community-scale providers could manufacture biodiesel and supply a good nutritional supplement to ranch and pasture fed cattle during the fall and winter seasons, when grasses are dormant and of lower nutritional value.

“We see potential for the ranching industry in cooperation with area growers to become more energy self sufficient while adding value to our beef before shipping it out of state,” Charter said.

Charter feeds safflower oil meal to her cattle on her ranch near Shepherd, Mont.

Gene Wirtz, a North Dakota wheat grower representing the Dakota Resource Council, noted that small scale biodiesel producers need to find markets for oilseed meal byproducts.

“This kind of technology brings farmers and ranchers together,” Wirtz said. “Farmers can grow it. Ranchers can feed it. They can jointly manufacture, process, and use the fuels.”

The Biodiesel Benefits report is available here. Print copies are available from WORC, 406-252-9672.

WORC is a network of conservation and family agriculture organizations in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Members of Dakota Resource Council use grassroots actions to influence public opinion and shape public policy to protect agriculture, natural resources, livelihoods and community well-being.

Northern Plains Resource Council is a grassroots conservation and family agriculture group that organizes citizens to protect Montana's water quality, family farms and ranches, and our unique way of life.

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