Source: MICHIGAN STATE UNIV submitted to
A FIELD-TO-WHEELS ENERGY CROP PROGRAM FOR MICHIGAN: GROWING CANOLA FOR AGRIFUELS
Sponsoring Institution
State Agricultural Experiment Station
Project Status
TERMINATED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0212352
Grant No.
(N/A)
Project No.
MICL03464
Proposal No.
(N/A)
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
(N/A)
Project Start Date
Sep 1, 2007
Project End Date
Aug 31, 2012
Grant Year
(N/A)
Project Director
Miller, D. J.
Recipient Organization
MICHIGAN STATE UNIV
(N/A)
EAST LANSING,MI 48824
Performing Department
CHEMICAL ENGINEERING
Non Technical Summary
Michigan has a need to develop energy crops that will benefit the local economy and provide significant income for farmers on lands throughout the State. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate the growth, harvesting, and processing of canola as an energy crop for agrifuels production.
Animal Health Component
50%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
(N/A)
Applied
50%
Developmental
50%
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
2041848106020%
2051848106020%
5111848202040%
6016110301020%
Goals / Objectives
1) The primary project objective is to grow and harvest several varieties of canola in two regions of the lower peninsula of Michigan. One hundred acres of winter canola will be planted in Ingham/Eaton county, and 50 acres of winter canola and 50 acres of spring canola will be planted in Osceola county. Crop yields, costs of production, and overall canola viability will be characterized for the different varieties and planting schedules at the two locations. 2) The harvested canola seed will be crushed and the oil processed to biodiesel at the MSU Biorefinery Training Facility located at Michigan Brewing Company in Webberville, Michigan. Oil yields and biodiesel quality from the several varieties will be characterized. 3) The product biodiesel and the byproduct canola meal will be used at Michigan State University: biodiesel will be used in the University fleet vehicles, and the canola meal will be used for animal feed on MSU farms.
Project Methods
This is a joint project between Chemical Engineering and Crop and Soil Sciences. Dr. Russ Freed will lead the canola growing portion of the project, including working with farmers to determine fertilizer needs, planting methods, and harvesting methods. Both a "standard" canola and several varieties of hybrid canola will be planted in the two project locations, and their yields and overall viability will be characterized. Mr. Dan Blackledge, a farmer in Osceola county interested in energy crops, will be supported part time to coordinate planting, harvesting, and transportation activities on the project. The harvested canola seed will be transported by truck to the Michigan Brewing Company in Webberville, Michigan, the location of the MSU Biorefinery Training Facility. Dr. Dennis Miller will lead the canola processing portion of the project. The seed will be crushed in an seed expeller press that is part of the BTF, and then the oil will be degummed and processed to biodiesel in the pilot-scale biodiesel production facility at the BTF. Oil yield and biodiesel quality from the several canola varieties will be characterized. Finally, as part of demonstrating sustainability of a Michigan canola crop, it is a goal of this project that the meal produced (approximately 150 tons) will be used as animal feed on MSU farms, and the biodiesel produced (20,000 gallons) will be sold for use in MSU fleet vehicles.

Progress 09/01/07 to 08/31/12

Outputs
OUTPUTS: This project showed significant progress in developing a canola industry that will impact the economy of northern lower Michigan. Approximately 500 acres of canola were planted and harvested by 16 farmers in northwest Michigan in 2009 and another 550 acres in 2010. Average yields exceeded 40 bushels per acre both years. The canola was sold to the ADM grain elevator in Windsor, Ontario. Two yield trials were conducted, one in Antrim County and one in Wexford County; in those trials 36 varieties of canola were tested in repeated plots 4 ft x 12 ft in size. A relationship has been developed with Dow Agrisciences, the owner of the Nexera line of high-oleic canola, and several of the varieties tested in yield trials were Nexera species. A marketing study was conducted, with over 30 companies in the food oil business contacted and the potential market for Michigan-grown canola oil assessed. An economic model for producing biofuels and/or food oil from canola in Michigan has been developed. A number of meetings were held to disseminate information about growing canola to farmers and other interested individuals. Two field days were held in July, 2009, and again in July 2010, one at Marion, Michigan, and the other at Bellaire, Michigan. In both places farmers were able to inspect canola fields and the yield trial plots. Two additional meetings with farmers were held in Cadillac, Michigan in March and April, 2009. Finally, a meeting was held with MSU Ag Extension Agents to talk about canola at their annual gathering in East Lansing. MSU Agricultural Extension Agents in northern Michigan worked closely with the PIs and the project manager, Mr. Dan Blackledge, to organize and promote the field days and other meetings to desseminate information about canola. A company, Michigan Canola Products, was formed to facilitate growing canola for farmers in northern Michigan. A business plan for Michigan Canola Products has been developed, and a proposal to the USDA for further support of canola development in Michigan was submitted as an output of the project. PARTICIPANTS: Dennis J. Miller is the co-PI on the project. He is responsible for processing of the canola grown during the project, either to biofuels or to food-grade oil. Russell Freed is the co-PI on the project. He is responsible for conducting the canola yield trials and for providing advice regarding growing canola in northern Michigan. Mr. Dan Blackledge is the project manager; he is responsible for moving the project forward, including organizing meetings, harvesting equipment rental, transport to market, and relationships with industrial partners. He also organized the provision of seed for farmers participating on the project. Mr. Joe Colyn has served as a technical consultant for the project; he has worked in the food oil business for over 20 years and prepared the market analysis for the project. We have a relationship with DowAgriscience regarding their Nexera line of canola products, a high-oleic canola that has health advantages. We have also developed discussions with Kellogg (Battle Creek) and with Thumb Oil Seed Processors (Ubley) over the past year. TARGET AUDIENCES: The target audience for this project are the farmers of Michigan, the Ag Extension agents, State government officials interested in economic development, and agronomists, scientists, and economists generally interested in agricultural development. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: The only project modification that took place was a shift in product focus from biofuels to food-grade oil. This came about from a recognition of the demand for healthy, domestically grown food oils and the simultaneous reduction in demand of fuel prices, which makes biodiesel uneconomical. The growth and harvest side of the project is unaffected.

Impacts
The growing and harvesting of 500 acres of canola in 2009 and again in 2010 provides critical information that verifies the opportunity to make canola a major cash crop for economically-depressed northern Michigan. Mr. Dan Blackledge conducted a detailed economic study of canola grown on 39 acres in 2009 using modern crop management techniques (fertilizer, pesticide). Average return on that crop was $111 per acre, much higher than $30-60 traditionally achieved for hay or pasture use. The average yield achieved on the 39 acre field was 42.6 bushels per acre. Yield trials of canola gave values ranging up to 2300 lb/acre for one of the hybrid varieties tested, approximately 20% higher than the average yield obtained with domestic canola varieties. It is therefore clear that canola is a viable cash crop for northern Michigan, and that with this project we have both established economic viability and started to develop the infrastructure (marketing, value-added Nexera, fertilizer and water requirements, harvesting methods, etc.) needed for farmers to successfully take advantage of the canola opportunity.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 01/01/09 to 12/31/09

Outputs
OUTPUTS: The second year of this project showed great progress in developing a canola industry that will impact the economy of northern lower Michigan. Approximately 500 acres of canola were planted and harvested by 16 farmers in northwest Michigan. The canola was sold to the ADM grain elevator in Windsor, Ontario. Two yield trials were conducted, one in Antrim County and one in Wexford County; in those trials 36 varieties of canola were tested in repeated plots 4 ft x 12 ft in size. A relationship has been developed with Dow Agrisciences, the owner of the Nexera line of high-oleic canola, and several of the varieties tested in yield trials were Nexera species. A marketing study was conducted, with over 30 companies in the food oil business contacted and the potential market for Michigan-grown canola oil assessed. An economic model for producing biofuels and/or food oil from canola in Michigan has been developed. A number of meetings were held to disseminate information about growing canola to farmers and other interested individuals. Two field days were held in July, 2009, one at Marion, Michigan, and the other at Bellaire, Michigan. In both places farmers were able to inspect canola fields and the yield trial plots. Two additional meetings with farmers were held in Cadillac, Michigan in March and April, 2009. Finally, a meeting was held with MSU Ag Extension Agents to talk about canola at their annual gathering in East Lansing. MSU Agricultural Extension Agents in northern Michigan worked closely with the PIs and the project manager, Mr. Dan Blackledge, to organize and promote the field days and other meetings to desseminate information about canola. A company, Michigan Canola Products, was formed to facilitate growing canola for farmers in northern Michigan. A business plan for Michigan Canola Products has been developed, and a proposal to the USDA for further support of canola development in Michigan has been submitted as an output of the project. PARTICIPANTS: Dennis J. Miller is the co-PI on the project. He is responsible for processing of the canola grown during the project, either to biofuels or to food-grade oil. Russell Freed is the co-PI on the project. He is responsible for conducting the canola yield trials and for providing advice regarding growing canola in northern Michigan. Mr. Dan Blackledge is the project manager; he is responsible for moving the project forward, including organizing meetings, harvesting equipment rental, transport to market, and relationships with industrial partners. He also organized the provision of seed for farmers participating on the project. Mr. Joe Colyn has served as a technical consultant for the project; he has worked in the food oil business for over 20 years and prepared the market analysis for the project. We have a relationship with DowAgriscience regarding their Nexera line of canola products, a high-oleic canola that has health advantages. We have also developed discussions with Kellogg (Battle Creek) and with Thumb Oil Seed Processors (Ubley) over the past year. The team has TARGET AUDIENCES: The target audience for this project are the farmers of Michigan, the Ag Extension agents, State government officials interested in economic development, and agronomists, scientists, and economists generally interested in agricultural development. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: The only project modification that took place in 2009 was a shift in product focus from biofuels to food-grade oil. This came about from a recognition of the demand for healthy, domestically grown food oils and the simultaneous reduction in demand of fuel prices, which makes biodiesel uneconomical. The growth and harvest side of the project is unaffected.

Impacts
The growing and harvesting of 500 acres of canola in 2009 provides critical information that verifies the opportunity to make canola a major cash crop for economically-depressed northern Michigan. Mr. Dan Blackledge conducted a detailed economic study of canola grown on 39 acres using modern crop management techniques (fertilizer, pesticide). Average return on that crop was $111 per acre, much higher than $30-60 traditionally achieved for hay or pasture use. The average yield achieved on the 39 acre field was 42.6 bushels per acre. Yield trials of canola gave values ranging up to 2300 lb/acre for one of the hybrid varieties tested, approximately 20% higher than the average yield obtained with domestic canola varieties. It is therefore clear that canola is a viable cash crop for northern Michigan, and that with this project we have both established economic viability and started to develop the infrastructure (marketing, value-added Nexera, fertilizer and water requirements, harvesting methods, etc.) needed for farmers to successfully take advantage of the canola opportunity.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 01/01/08 to 12/31/08

Outputs
OUTPUTS: The "canola" project has successfully met its objectives for the first year in growing the crop, gaining understanding of canola processing, and developing a biofuels refining and marketing plan. Canola seed was obtained from Alvin Ernst Farms in Washtenaw County (Wichita variety), as well as two German hybrids which Dr. Freed had shipped from Germany (Rally hybrid and Hornet hybrid). Seeding rates varied between 5.3 pounds/acre and 10 pounds/acre, and all fields had soil tests. Farmers in Eaton County planted 100 acres of winter canola and 60 acres of winter canola in Osceola County in September, 2007. Because of weather, all but 5 acres of winter canola in Osceola County and 50 acres of canola in Eaton County were lost, but 25 acres in Eaton Co. and 40 acres in Osceola Co. of spring canola were planted. The total harvest for Year One was thus 140 acres; from the 75 acres in Eaton Co., the total yield was approximately 24 tons, only about 30% of that expected because of a July hailstorm. Approximately 1000 bushels of canola seed were purchased by MSU for use in biofuels research. The remainder was sent to market by farmers via the ADM grain elevator in Windsor, Ontario. The 1000 bushels of canola seed has been processed at the MSU Biorefinery Training Facility (BTF) in Webberville, Michigan using a seed expeller located at the BTF. Approximately 500 gallons of the oil were processed to biodiesel and has been used in other research activities taking place at MSU, including tests in MSU Grounds Dept. equipment. Several tons of canola meal (the residual from oil expelling) were distributed to farmers in Eaton County and to the MSU Dairy Barns for feed to cattle and chickens. Project Manager Dan Blackledge attended a 2-day conference in Atlanta, GA in February called Integration of Agriculture and Energy Systems. Mr. Blackledge, Ag Extension Agent Jerry Linquist, and others went to the Ontario Canola Growers Field Day in July and had the opportunity to talk with over 100 growers, representatives from 5 canola seed companies, and several extension agents and consultants. The MSU group observed their field trials, and learned as they discussed canola nutrient needs, pest control, and harvesting techniques. A farmer meeting was held in both Osceola County and Eaton County in March, 2008 to talk with both current growers as well as others who are interested in growing canola for 2009 harvest. Osceola had about 30 attendees and Eaton had about 20 attendees; Dr. Freed presented at both. PARTICIPANTS: Dr. Dennis Miller is the principal investigator on the project; he is responsible for the processing of canola to recover the oil, for the conversion of oil to biodiesel, and for purification of oil to a food-grade product. Farmers growing canola have been supported in this project by Dr. Russ Freed in the Crops and Soils Sciences Department, who has responsibility for purchasing and distributing seed, for disseminating information about canola, and for helping advise farmers on canola growing. Jerry Linquist and George Silva of MSU are the County Extension Directors in Osceola and Eaton Counties, respectively. They have responsibility for interfacing with farmers who are growing canola on the project. Mr. Dan Blackledge is the project manager; Dan has the responsibility for project logistics such as getting seed to farmers, getting reimbursement to farmers for their crop, getting the crop to market or to MSU for processing, and for the market and business development aspects of the project. Mr. Zach Thomson and Ms. Julie Jensen are MSU students who worked for the summer at crushing canola and making biodiesel. Mr. Kevin McMillan was a temporary employee who ran the expeller to crush part of the canola. TARGET AUDIENCES: The target audiences for this project are 1) Michigan farmers, particularly those in the northern lower penninsula of Michigan who have a need for a viable cash crop; 2) Michigan entrepeneurs, who will see the opportunity to develop a canola industry in Michigan that can produce food, fuel and other value-added products; and 3) Michigan food distributors, who have the opportunity to distribute a "made in Michigan" product that will benefit them and the State. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: No major changes in the project objectives or scope are anticipated during the second year of the project. The project is on track to meet objectives by the end of the second year.

Impacts
The investigators, agricultural extension agents, and farmers who participated in this project learned a great deal about canola during this first year. It is clear that spring canola is better suited to Michigan than winter canola, as the mortality rate for winter canola was very high. Harvesting requires careful attention to moisture content in the field, as it was found that canola that was harvested wet (from one Eaton County field) was subject to molding with two weeks of its harvest. The yield data obtained in year one of the project are invaluable in developing a business strategy for a Michigan canola industry. In that regard, Mr. Dan Blackledge, the project manager, was very active in developing relationships with potential partners in growing and processing canola, in identifying potential market directions, and in attending meetings on canola production and biofuels. He began the initial steps to determine where markets for canola oil may be in Michigan and surrounding states by contacting food production experts and by building relationships with individuals giving access to Meijer, Spartan Foods, and other entities that would market Michigan canola as a Michigan product. He established that the ADM elevator in Windsor, Ontario, will take canola from Michigan at market price. The processing of canola seed to canola oil and then to biodiesel was successfully carried out at the MSU BTF in Webberville, Michigan. Approximately 32 wt% oil was obtained from the seed, or about 80% of the oil present. Experimentation to process and purify the oil and then produce biodiesel were initiated. Biodiesel production methods are now securely established, such that no technical barriers, only economic ones, stand in the way of Michigan biodiesel production. The processing of canola oil to a food product has also been investigated and will be finalized during early 2009. In summary, the canola project has met objectives during the first year and has provided key information necessary to develop a canola industry in the state. The project has also integrated well with other biofuels production work ongoing at MSU.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 01/01/07 to 12/31/07

Outputs
OUTPUTS: This is a new project that started in September, 2007. The goal of the project is to grow and process canola and thus examine it feasibility as an energy crop for Michigan. Approximately 130 acres of canola, both domestic (Wichita) and hybrid varieties from Germany, were planted in lower Michigan in September, 2007. Approximately 100 acres were planted in Eaton County, about 20 miles southwest of Lansing, and 30 acres were planted in Osceola County, which is between Clare and Cadillac in the northwest quadrant of the lower peninsula. This winter canola will be ready for harvesting in early July, 2008. An additional 70 acres of canola will be planted in Spring, 2008 to ascertain the feasibility of spring canola as a northern Michigan energy crop. The spring canola will be harvested in September, 2008. The processing of the canola seed will take place at Michigan Brewing Company in Webberville, Michigan. The infrastructure for handling and processing is currently under development at MBC, with plans to conduct trial runs with purchased canola in Spring, 2008 to verify readiness of the facility for the harvested crop in Summer, 2008. PARTICIPANTS: Investigators: Dennis J. Miller, Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Russell Freed, Professor, Department of Crop and Soil Science Project Manager: Dan Blackledge, Consultant, Entrepeneur, and Farmer Training opportunities: We anticipate hiring a summer intern to aid in the processing of the canola seed to oil and then biodiesel. TARGET AUDIENCES: The target audience for this project is the farm community of Michigan, individuals and companies interested in biofuel production, and finally government officials who develop policies on energy use and rural development.

Impacts
The canola growth and harvesting will be carefully monitored to determine crop yields, costs of production, harvesting efficiency, and overall canola viability for the two regions of Michigan. The processing of canola on a demonstration scale (10,000 bushels total) will provide valuable insight into the key issues and real costs of canola processing to biodiesel. The sale of residual canola meal to either MSU farms or local farms will evaluate the viability of canola meal as an animal feed byproduct. The biodiesel produced will be run in engines both at Michigan Brewing and on the MSU campus. The outcome of the project will be a clear picture of the viability of growing canola as an energy crop for Michigan, particulary the northern portions of the State where there are currently no cash crop opportunities for farmers. In addition, the "field-to-wheels" approach will provide an integrated view of biofuels production that is generally unavailable in the open marketplace. Most importantly, this project can provide information on the financial and system infrastructure required to successfully produce biofuels in the current agriculture climate.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period