Rapeseed trials look promising
Preliminary results from trials of methods to increase rapeseed yields are promising, it has been revealed, and simple solutions seem to bring sizeable rewards that could make the crop more reliable in Iceland.
Several South Iceland farms successfully grow rapeseed for oil production, and the crop is also used to feed cattle and sheep.
If the plant is used as feed, it needs to be of a certain type that emphasised green growth. Meanwhile, rape grown for oil can be of a variety that emphasises stalk and flower/seed development over leaves.
1.5 tonnes of oil per hectare
Hrannar Smári Hilmarsson is leading the trials at the Icelandic Agricultural University at Hvanneyri and says rapeseed yields in Iceland could become more reliable and productive:
“It is an oil crop and oil can be produced from the plant’s seeds. We have seen numbers where we are seeing three tonnes of seeds per hectare. That could realistically mean half of it is oil. That is one-and-a-half tonnes per hectare. The leftovers are then a very important protein source for livestock.”
Hrannar says farmers have been experimenting with the crop for several years with varying results. Some years have been very successful, while others have seen extremely low yields. Trials at Hvanneyri of different growing methods have re-started after a pause, and results so far this summer are promising.
For people, animals, and engines
Hrannar Smári says rapeseed is useful as animal feed, and as a culinary oil, but also as a fuel. The oil can be used directly in older diesel engines, but also as a mixed-in component for newer engines and at sea. Such a move would reduce the fishing industry’s carbon footprint, he says.