After reading and writing about biofuels for a year I’ve come to the conclusion that the localised production and use of biodiesel similar to that described below is the way to go. The exception in this case is the use of imported palm oil as a feedstock to fill the gaps in production when local crops are not available.
According to The West Australian WA farmers will grow Indian Mustard in the drier parts of the wheatbelt this year. The oilseed will be processed at a Pingelly biodiesel plant that is expected to be operating by March 2008.
The biodiesel plant is a joint venture between a Pingelly farming family and BioWorks Australia. When at full capacity the plant is expected to produce up to three million litres of biodiesel a year using canola, mustard, tallow and imported palm oil as feedstock.
According to BioWorks’ managing director Craig Lovelady Indian Mustard will be a significant contributor to the feedstock requirements for the company’s biodiesel production.
The crop offers some unique advantages over canola and presents a much lower risk profile than the other oil seeds in the wheatbelt. These include greater drought tolerance and suitability to 300-400mm rainfall areas, higher yields in most situations, lower fertiliser requirements and greater resistance to disease, including Blackleg.
BioWorks is gathering data on 550ha of mustard planted last year before determining the scale of planting programs this autumn. They will have enough seed available for up to 10,000ha after a seed growing program across nine WA farms last year.
Pingelly farmers John and Michelle Hassell are directors of BioWorks Pingelly, a franchise of BioWorks Australia, which aims to set up the biodiesel plant in town with the long-term aim of allowing farmers to process their own crops at the plant.
In the short term, Mr Hassell said BioWorks Pingelly would be producing biodiesel and selling it to fuel companies, but the real goal was for farmers to process their own crops.
The whole point is for a regionally- based business where the fuel is grown and used in the region and that provides employment.