ARE’s prototype farm will devote 5% of its acreage to vegetable oil seed production to be used for extraction and conversion to biodiesel, with the remaining vegetable solids to be used for animal feed. Cold pressed oil is used for biofuel, and oil seed cake is used for animal feed. Polymers are used to clarify the oil and the oil subsequently undergoes chemical conversion to biodiesel.
ARE’s cropping system involves two primary crops: (1) a 3-year rotation of corn for silage and grain, which have high nitrogen (N) requirements, and (2) a 3 – 4 year rotation of alfalfa / grass for silage and hay, which has a high potassium (K) requirement. Oilseed crops will be added to this classic dairy cropping rotation to provide additional crop diversity, increased opportunities for introducing a wider variety of cover crops, and as a feedstock for both biodiesel, straight vegetable oil (SVO), and high quality bypass protein meal. The cropping system requires manure and other (commercial fertilizer) nutrients as well as machine fuels as purchased or on-farm inputs.
ARE crop production methods take advantage of GPS-based Precision AG-soil analysis and manure nutrient management planning (NMP). Plant cover crops are needed for carbon balance. The necessary nitrogen levels are achieved by fertigation with high nitrogen, low phosphorhous liquid from manure during the growing season to prevent runoff, and high phosphorous, low nitrogen fertilizer pellets produced on-farm from manure are applied. Our research on the crop and products will determine the economic benefits of biodiesel versus purified vegetable oil for direct use in operating farm vehicles and machinery.