Source: Agricultural Research Service

Pacific Northwest farmers could someday be filling up their machinery's tanks with fuels produced from their own fields, according to ongoing research by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists.

Since 2003, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) microbiologist Hal Collins and agronomist Rick Boydston have been studying safflower, camelina, soybeans, mustard, canola, wheat, corn and switchgrass to assess their potential for bioenergy production. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of developing new sources of bioenergy.

Collins and Boydston both work at the ARS Vegetable and Forage Crops Research Laboratory in Prosser, Wash., where they've found that the oilseed crops in their studies could someday help supply Washington State with renewable fuels. For instance, they've found that canola, which is already established as a summer crop in the Pacific Northwest, can also be grown in the winter both as a cover crop and potentially as a biofeedstock crop, because its seeds are around 40 percent oil.

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