The oil extracted from oleaginous plants can be used as a fuel for agricultural vehicles without any reduction in their performance -- thus enabling farmers to have greater energy self-sufficiency. Besides this, a sub-product known as oilseedcake is extracted, and which is optimum fodder for animal herds, given its significant protein and fatty acids content.
The Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development -- Neiker-Tecnalia -- is investigating of the use of the oil for fuel and the storage capacity of the oleaginous cakes. The technological centre is also studying different processes for improving rape and sunflower crops, the two oleaginous species that best adapt to agroclimatic conditions in the Basque Country. The project, known as Plusoleo, is funded by the Basque Government through the + Euskadi 2009 programme.
The Neiker-Tecnalia researchers have shown that the oil extracted directly from oilseed rape and sunflower seeds can be added to gasoil in a proportion of up to 30 %, without problems for the engines and no need of modifications. In parallel, the oilcake contains between 16 and 20 % of fatty matter and between 25 and 27 % of protein, according to samples analysed in the research centre's laboratories. Therefore the cake has great nutritional value as animal feed.
The average production of rape is 3,500 kilos per hectare and around 1,160 litres of oil can be obtained. The farmer can use the oil for own-consumption as fuel, with the consequent cost savings, or for sell it at a price of between 67 and 84 cents of a euro. The option of extracting the oil and selling it seems to be more profitable than selling the seeds. Moreover, from the 3,500 kilos produced per hectare some 2,300 kilos of oilseedcake can be obtained after pressing, which the farmer can sell or use it as animal fodder.
Applications in animal feed
Nutritional composition and nutritive value are two fundamental values for evaluating any food for inclusion in the diet of farm animals. The cake obtained from mechanical procedures (which are those available to farmers) has a larger content of fatty material than that obtained by industrial procedures with additional chemicals. Moreover, they provide better information on the traceability of the protein destined for animal feed. The cake obtained on the farm by simple cold pressing of the seeds has between 11 and 33 % of fatty material per kilo; the industrial cake provides only between 2 and 3 %.
At the Neiker-Tecnalia laboratories various samples of rape-cake from the Basque Country were analysed. These samples obtained between 16 and 22 % of fatty material per kilo and between 25 and 27 % of protein per kilo of cake, values which are of great nutritional interest.
Rape-cake and sunflower-cake are, moreover, rich in linoleic and linolenic acids, essential fatty acids and precursors of the Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acid families. Sheep fed with this material show a profile of fatty acids with enhanced nutritional qualities.
Moreover, the technological centre is also working on the Laresne project, financed by the Spanish National Institute of Agricultural Research and Technology (INIA) in collaboration with the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of the Basque Country. Also feeding sheep with this cake fodder is studied as well as its effect on zootechnical parameters and milk quality.
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