Oilseed production continues
Lingle – “A one-ton per day crusher is pretty small scale, but it can run 24/7,” says Ryan Lafferty, an independent consultant with Custom Camelina of the machine used at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center (SAREC) to crush oilseed crops.
“The crusher has a screw drive in it that’s captured by a tapered cylinder, so it gets tighter and tighter. You can switch screws, or jets, to increase oil yield. Right now the machine is running at full capacity, which is 90 rpm, on a number 8 jet. I’ve had it as tight as a 6 jet, and that’s about as far as I go on this crusher.
“There’s a magnet on it to ensure no metal goes into the system, and if something gets clogged that screw will still run and push everything in until it’s a really tight meal,” explains Lafferty.
He adds that the smaller scale crusher is really easy to clean and takes much less time to unclog than some models.
“With lower quality models it’s a four- to eight-hour job cleaning it out. It’s not a matter of if these machines will clog, it’s a matter of when, so cleaning time is worth considering. If the machine clogs and continues running you will ruin equipment pretty fast,” says Lafferty.
To prevent this, an electronic eye is placed in front of the meal expelled from the machine. If the meal stops flowing, the eye will automatically shut off the machine. “When you come back from the field you can deal with it in about 20 minutes,” notes Lafferty.
Camelina is one oilseed crushed in the SAREC machine.
“Camelina seed is a good, high oil content crop. There are some things still being worked out with the crop, but it has great potential,” says Lafferty. “It has high levels of omega-3 oils in the meal that will transfer to cattle and other livestock that eat it and into the resulting meat products. There’s also a lot of interest in this crop for jet fuel. It can’t run straight up at high altitude, but it has great cold-flow properties.”
Producing camelina in this state is a challenge, according to Wyoming Business Council Crop and Forage Program Manager Donn Randall.
“It’s an expensive crop in this state. Last year we had 250 acres in production and didn’t get one bushel of yield. This was due to a variety of issues, but we still have a way to go on the production end,” adds Randall.
Safflower is another oilseed crop currently grown near Sheridan with much success. “Some of the safflower crops are looking at yields over 2,000 pounds per acre,” says Randall
“But the crop we’ve had the most success with is still canola. Beckton Stock Farm’s first test plot of canola produced over 2,300 pounds per acre. It probably would have been closer to 2,600 pounds per acre, but they swathed and combined it too late, so there was a lot of shatter.” he notes.
Of the customers for oilseed crops, Randall says students are at the top.
“Our biggest customers are probably highschoolers and youth. Nothing against people older than that, but it’s a matter of, ‘tradition says I’m going to do it this way and I’m not changing.’ We’ve found working with youth very rewarding.
“We did a pilot program through a high school chemistry class and that class is now completely full for next year because of what they’re doing with their oilseed project,” explains Randall.
He adds the Wyoming Oilseed Working Partners have made many current projects possible within the state. Cost share grants are still available to producers interested in seed production.
“There are a lot of economics involved in raising oilseed crops, just like in any other industry. We’re learning,” notes Randall.
A tour on Wyoming oilseed crop and biodiesel production is scheduled for Sept. 13 at Phil and Kate Boreens’ ranch near Otto. The tour will focus on the benefits and opportunities involved in producing oilseeds and include alternative energy projects the Boreens use on their operation.