View Full Version : Integrated biofuel production on a farm

6th February 2008, 10:21 PM
(automatically updated/inserted from The Envirofuels Blog)

Since April 2003, Dr Thomas Hernandorena, an Argentine farmer from Coronel Suarez (Buenos Aires state) has become the pioneer of integrated biofuel production. Dr Hernandorena was the first farmer that produced his own biodiesel fuel, delivering from the sunflower oil seeds to the tractor and harvester fuel tank.

Please click this link to read the full article on the Envirofuels website. (http://envirofuel.com.au/2008/02/06/integrated-biofuel-production-on-a-farm/)

6th February 2008, 10:43 PM
WOW... is it for real? If it is, This Farmer is interested.

7th February 2008, 07:39 AM
He used only 3% of his seeds for biodiesel production to fuel his farm energy, transport and mechanical needs. I wonder how big sunflower crop was?

7th February 2008, 09:42 AM
It would surprise me greatly if the first farmer to do this, did so in 2003. I'm sure there was some here even doing it before then.

Acording to the following page, this guy seems to have been doing it (although, maybe not with B100) since about 1999:
BE Bioenergy - Biodiesel from Canola Oil (http://www.ballarat.edu.au/projects/ensus/case_studies/biodiesel/)
BE Bioenergy | Biodiesel | Grow Your Own Fuel | Australia (http://www.bebioenergy.com/index.htm)

The idea has been around since long before 2003.

7th February 2008, 05:35 PM
Hello all, this is one interesting site, wish I'd found it years ago.


Thanks for the links TroyH, I'd missed that company in my searchs.


Anybody got some thoughts (or links to previous threads, sites, etc) on how this small cattle farmer might approch growing his own fuel ?
I have had a fair look around this site which has given me the idea to do it myself.

The Farm is located in the Brisbane valley, two hour drive north west Brisbane, undulating to steep, 300' to 1,500' altitude, about 75% red volcanic soils, with about 33% hoop pine vine scrub (rainforest), 33% open forest and 33% cleared.

I've got tracters, Bulldozers etc, though want to stay away from plowing and irrigating (except for establishment) The preference is a plant that can have cattle grazing amongst it.
From my research so far, it looks like either Jatropha or Pongamia Pinnata may suit. (if not piosonous) Would be nice if one of the local rainforest plants were suitable.

I would install my own small processing plant.

The farm rig is a Cruiser ute and Isuzu truck. If the vehicles, and tracters, will drink 100% home grown Biodiesel, I'll be one happy Chevy.


7th February 2008, 06:21 PM
No worries.

I believe Jatropha is considered a weed in Australia, so you wont be able to cultivate it.

Perhaps you could look at doing something with the abundance of manure you must have? Some kind of digester? I'm not sure what you could plant that would give you sufficient oil, but wouldn't require specialist machinery to cultivate. Perhaps Algae of some sort would be the go?

You could have a methane digester, have some kind of methane gas powered generator for your power, and the exhaust from the generator could provide CO2 to your algae. :D

7th February 2008, 07:24 PM

Unforetunatly it would be unviable to gather the manure, as my farm is a open grazing situation. I can see how that idea might work in a feedlot.

Best I can see, is Algae requires volumes of water which would not suit my situation.

The best outcome is one fuel type for everything. Biodiesel has the potential to run all farm equipment and vehicles - from ATV's, generaters, etc, right up to the bulldozer. Obviously engine compatibility is an unknown at this stage - I've noted the dificultys many posters here have with their cars.

I'd heard that Jatropha was a weed in WA, but I havnt seen it mentioned as a weed in QLD. From what I can work out there are some native Jatropha types (?) and they look to be very hardy (which is probably why they are a weed)
The Jatropha livestock pioson issue may simply be a case of over grazing. My farm has dozens of plants that can kill hungry livestock, its all down to proper management.
What I've seen is the many references to Jatrophas ability to build the soil, that is why it interests me apart from the fuel side.

Pongama Pinnata may be the first pick yet, as a Professor Gresshoff of QLD Uny is doing some work with it. I assume He has picked this plant as being the most suitable for QLD.

The intent is to mechanicly harvest. I see it presents dificultys at present, though I think it is achievable.
As a teenager I worked on an NQ coffee farm that was developing its own mech harvesters (or modifing) As a casual labourer, I was not directly involved in the developments, but it showed me that it can be done.

8th February 2008, 10:03 AM
Hi mate,

I can see the problem with the manure collection issue...

If you are up for modifying or buying machinery then you've probably got a few more options. When you mentioned you didn't want to do any ploughing I kind of assumed it was because you wanted to use your existing equipment. Sorry about jumping to conclusions.

What part of QLD are you in? Might be feasible for you to use ethanol as a feedstock for biodiesel production, rather than methanol?

In regard to the algae, it would use a lot of water if it were in ponds, but I'm not so sure about water use in something like a continuous photobioreactor setup (one without an artificial light source). Algae would have the advantage that it may be useable as a livestock feed after the oil is extracted, but it has the disadvantage that it may be more costly/complicated to produce and process.
Plus if it uses much water, I guess it is out.

Good luck in whatever you choose. It seems like you are doing your research, so I am sure you will find something to suit your circumstances.

8th February 2008, 03:33 PM
Thanks Troy,

As you've worked out, the cultivation I was trying to aviod was the type found in broadacre cropping situations, the yearly plowing, replanting, etc.

The prefered operation for me, is after the initial preperation work and planting, there is only the slashing/mulching between the oil bush rows - Plus the harvest of course.
Preferably the oil bush rows would be far enough apart that the normal pasture can continue to grow and be grazed.

The harvesting operation may be able to be an all in one bush shapeing operation as well. The aim being to manage the bush so it will not overtake the pasture, or get too high.

I've got a rough outline of where I want to go with this, and a very small amount of knoweledge on the subject so I appreciate your input. I've decided to have a closer look at the algae concept, if the water can be recirculted may not need as much as I thought.

8th February 2008, 05:46 PM
my thoughts would be an algae covered pond doesn't lose as much water through evaporation as a pond without algae covering the surface. so if its safe for livestock as i would think it would be you could grow it on top of your dams (if you have any). I think from what you have said you were on the right track. well spaced rows of a hardy oil plants that are stock friendly. when they get big enogh the stock can grasze around the trees and eat the grass around the trunks and save you the trouble of slashing. my uncle is in some deal with the csiro with native trees planted on his property. they plant and fence the area and study their growth for 8 years then my uncle fully owns them and can do as he pleases. i think it was to see if some natives help others to grow quicker etc etc.

i saw this on landline this mallee it could well be your golden goose.
Landline - 6/02/00: Mallee emerges as cash crop and salinity solution. Australian Broadcasting Corp (http://www.abc.net.au/landline/stories/s97955.htm)
goodluck mate i'll be joining your cause soon i think when i returnto the bush.

p.s i like the way your approching this saying that you don't want to plow and do all the radical sowing. radical cropping can really screw ya topsoil up. good on ya mate with the enviro farm practices.

8th February 2008, 10:29 PM
Hello Nick,

Thanks for the link to the Mallee, it is something I've come across before. I crossed it of the list because my country is higher south east QLD hill country and I dont have a salinity problem. Thankfully salt travels down hill.

With the Algae in the dam idea, unforetunatly, due to the hilly terrain, my dams are relatively small in surface area and I dont think they would give the volumes of oil I require. Algae farmed in the clear plastic tubes may suite, I am looking into it further now.

Thanks for your good wishs Nick.